A Look Back: 4 of PhotoShelter’s Longest Standing Members Reflect on the Industry

A Look Back: 4 of PhotoShelter’s Longest Standing Members Reflect on the Industry

As part of Member Appreciation week last week, we caught up with a few of our longest standing members to find out what their biggest accomplishments have been in the past 9 years, and how changes in the industry have affected them personally, their careers and their day-to-day workflows.

These photographers, including Chip Litherland, Brad Mangin and Ami Vitale are continuing to amaze us, churning out fantastic work and staying on top of their game. And, on top of it all, they have found PhotoShelter useful through career moves, technology advances and industry hardships. We’re honored that they depend on us to help keep their photography businesses running smoothly and efficiently.

Read on for their stories – and leave in the comments below what changes you’ve experienced since 2005 when it comes to your photography workflow.

Chip Litherland

Chip Litherland's homepage

Chip Litherland’s homepage

PhotoShelter site: chiplitherland.photoshelter.com
Speciality: Commercial, editorial, photojournalism
Member since: January 16, 2006

What’s been your greatest photography accomplishment since 2005?

My greatest photography accomplishment since 2005 is definitely being able to recover from leaving the newspaper and a steady check behind and building a business relying on my own eye, finger, brain, and heart. Leaving that “stability” behind and being able to thrust myself into a freelance career has been tough, but looking back, well, there is no looking back now. I’m happy. It’s not because I’m rich beyond belief (because I’m not) but I’m so happy to have learned what it takes – through many failures – to build a successful brand where I charge what I’m worth and have the confidence to say no to bad situations.

I’m blessed to be able to have a core of amazing clients that hire me for what I do and how I see, not based on where I’m located or what I charge. Every day I wake up and I can say I’m doing what I want to do, getting paid for it, I’m happy for it. There’s so much left to do in my career and so much left to see, I’m just excited to be pressing buttons and making rectangles.

A few of my favorite projects over the years have include work with clients such as LEGOLAND Florida, ESPN, and Leica – just to name a few.

What’s the biggest change in the industry that’s affected your work flow since 2005?

Other than going from full time staff to freelance, adapting to the industry changes in technology and social media has definitely affected everyone who is now a photographer.

It’s been tough to see what social media has done to what we do, but embracing the change and making it work for me rather than trying to go against it has been the key to happiness. We’re constantly force fed new apps, new cameras, new technologies, and the world of photographers just gobble it all up. People who weren’t photographers yesterday can go out and buy a Canon X and a bunch of L glass and make acceptable pictures. Screw acceptable. I’m really out there every day trying to push the way I see, shoot how I shoot, and make something special for my clients day in and day out.

The day I stop having fun making pictures, I’m out. I just generally love exploring our world, finding color, and chasing light. It doesn’t get much better that that. Adapting to be able to keep that happening has been the biggest change to workflow, because it’s not just that simple any more.

Shiho Fukada

Shiho homepage

Shiho Fukada’s homepage

PhotoShelter site: shihofukada.com
Specialty: Photojournalism, documentary
Member since: June 27, 2005

What’s been your greatest photography accomplishment since 2005?

Overall, my biggest accomplishment is to have been able to work as a photojournalist for the past 9 years and have people let me in their lives and tell their stories. Another accomplishment is when ordinary people – not people from the photo industry – tell me my photos moved them, made them think and want to do something about the issue or people I photographed.

More specifically, I’m proud of my Tsunami coverage in Japan, for which I received The Visa d’or – Daily Press Award at Visa pour l’image Perpignan in 2011, and also my more recent film project Japan’s Disposable Workers.

What’s the biggest change in the industry that’s affected your work flow since 2005?

With Photoshelter, I can let clients download images directly from my site – I don’t have to spend time burning DVD for clients anymore!

Brad Mangin

Brad Mangin's homepage

Brad Mangin’s homepage

PhotoShelter site: manginphotography.photoshelter.com
Speciality: Sports, editorial, commercial
Member since: July 1, 2005

What’s been your greatest photography accomplishment since 2005?

I have had three books published in the past few years. Two of them were about the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series (in 2010 ands 2012) and one of them “Instant Baseball” was full of iPhone Instagrams I shot during the 2012 baseball season. You can see those here, on my PhotoShelter site.

I am especially proud of the Instagram book because I jumped on the Instagram social media trend early and shot pictures of pro sports with my phone that hadn’t been done before. I then worked hard to get six pages of them published in Sports Illustrated in July of 2012, which helped me get a book deal a few months later. Instant Baseball was published in the spring of 2013 both as a hard cover book and as an ebook through Apple.

What’s the biggest change in the industry that’s affected your work flow since 2005?

I switched to digital in 2003 so my work flow has not changed that much, with the exception of the digital files getting bigger and bigger. I still archive all of my captioned RAW files in my searchable, online archive powered by PhotoShelter. My archive currently has around 74,000 images dating back to 1987, most of them baseball.

The major bummer is that since many of the corporate photo agencies like Getty Images are giving away pictures for free and licensing images to editorial clients for mere pennies the value of my archive has taken a huge hit. I am still an advocate of keeping your copyright and fighting to protect it, but unfortunately the images I own are not worth as much as they used to be due to the devaluation of photographs all over the world caused by this downward spiral.

Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale's homepage

Ami Vitale’s homepage

PhotoShelter site: amivitale.com
Speciality: Photojournalism, documentary
Member since: December 21, 2005

What’s been your greatest photography accomplishment since 2005?

Photography is a powerful tool of change. I do believe it can create understanding and awareness. For most of my career, I’ve worked covering issues primarily about women, poverty, health, and security.

I didn’t realize it at that time, but all of these issues are really issues about nature. Stories about the land are always stories about people. You cannot talk about one without the other. One of the stories I’m currently working on is about the plight of wildlife in Africa. Much has already been said about the conflict between heavily armed poachers and increasingly militarized wildlife rangers, but very little has been said about the indigenous communities on the frontlines of the poaching wars and the incredible work that is being done to strengthen them. These communities may hold the key to saving Africa’s great animals. Community cohesion is ultimately the best immunization against forces that threaten both their wildlife and way of life. I am working right now on a campaign around this issue, which you can see on the Nat Geo Proof blog here.

One of the best assignments I have had more recently was photographing China releasing its first female panda back into the wild. There are approximately 1,600 Giant Pandas in the world and many conservationists privately consider them a relict species. In a region where bad environmental news is common, the Giant Panda might prove to be the exception and a testament to the perseverance and efforts of Chinese scientists and conservationists. By breeding and releasing pandas, augmenting existing populations, and protecting habitat, China may be on its way to successfully saving its most famous ambassador, and in the process put the wild back into an icon.

What’s the biggest change in the industry that’s affected your work flow since 2005?

It is the most exciting time to be photographer. The medium is changing and video is now playing a much bigger role in what we do. Cameras like the one I carry (Nikon D4s) can shoot high-definition video and this can enhance our abilities as storytellers. This is already playing a big role in my future, so I’m grateful I made the jump into learning a new skill as a filmmaker. I’m finding that I am busier than ever telling meaningful stories in new ways for a variety of outlets. If you are thinking about learning video, dive in! Shooting video makes your brain work in a different way and once you learn a few basic concepts, it’s not as hard as it may look.

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