Instagram Terms of Service

So, you have probably heard that Instagram have updated their Terms of Service, which, in typical legal language, is a little ambiguous, but it does seem they are stating that they will take the rights for any images you take through the app. They then basically state that they can use these images as they see fit, with no recompense to you. This caused a large stir amongst the users and wider industry.

Instagram made the following Twitter update to say they recognised the drama:

This story has caused quite a backlash from photographers and avid users who now fear that Instagram could be making money form their images. As expected Instagram, (who’s owned by Facebook if you didn’t know) were quick to come out and defend themselves:

As you can see, the blog post seems to reverse most of what they originally announced. Whether they really did get the original language wrong, or were just terrified of angering, and subsequently losing their user base, we will probably never know.

There are a few things we can learn from this however.

1. Always read the terms and conditions of any service you use. I’ve also seen a number of photography competitions that also use fairly vague language which would potentialy pass the image rights to themselves and of course any future revenues. As photographers, retaining the rights to our own work is paramount. Nothing is worth giving that up.

2. There are a vast number of ‘apps’, photography based or otherwise, that we can install and use on our various digital devices. Many of these are free. Ultimately however these apps need to make a profit as at the end of the day, those developers need paying. We seem to have a growing culture of expecting things for free, but this cannot be. Either we ‘pay’ by being subjected to advertising, or we pay a traditional monetary fee or subscription.

Anyway, lets hope Instagram are true to their word and will not either take the image rights from the users, nor profit from selling their photos.

Are you an Instagram user? Will you continue to use the app, or has this issue by passed you?

Free Sample Prints

I sell my photos as large framed prints, and I realise that this can be a large investment before you’ve even seen the photos in real life. Therefore I offer free small prints so that you can see the image in person before making an order for the main framed prints. Of course if you like the small print itself, feel free to put this in your own frame. Just make sure you tell people where you got it from!

To order a small print, go to my portfolio page and select the image you want and add it to your basket, and from the ‘Prints’ tab, choose the first option which is a 5″x7.5″ print. This will be printed and posted to you straight away. You’ll just have to pay for postage.

Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War

I visited the Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London last weekend. Beaton has two quite distinct sides to his work, fashion and war. Beaton always longed to be in the world of theatre, but it seems he was never quite good enough to fulfil his dreams, and increasingly turned to photography to make a small living. This turned into a prosperous career with him going on to shoot royal weddings and many celebrities of the era. However he now claims that his less known work as a war photographer is his most important body of work. During the Second World War he was stationed across parts of the Middle East and Asia to record the impact of war.

I found his work to be far more documentary than that of other well know war photographers like Don McCullin or Larry Burrows tending to record the people rather than the fighting and many of his photos still retain portrait like qualities. Beaton’s work is an interesting alternative to a lot of the images we’re probably more familier with from theatre’s of war. His interest in theatre and fashion come through with some of his shoots retaining quite a stylised and almost glamorous look.

The exhibition only runs until December 31st 2012, so you need to be quick if you do plan to see it.

A Free Print

As a welcoming introduction to my work, please free to order this print totally free!

I would normally sell this sized image for £500 (framed), so that’s a huge bargain.

It would look great either at home, in the office or in your restaurant/cafe.

Even though it’s free, you will still receive a high quality product that reflects my normal standards. You will be ordering a 20″x30″ giclee print, produced on high quality Somerset Enhanced Velvet 225gsm paper, which has excellent archival properties meaning your art will retain it’s original colour for 100+ years. All handled by the excellent Spectrum Photographic lab in Hove on the south coast of England.


Order Free Print
A view across the sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara Desert. (Simon Cooper)

A view across the sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara Desert. (Simon Cooper)

Chengi Village / Pulau Ubin

Whilst on a trip to Singapore, I took a boat ride over to a smaller island in the straights between Singapore and Malaysia called Pulau Ubin. I took the below shot on the ferry ride back towards Singapore. The man on the boat presumably took this trip umpteen times a day, and was there to check tickets. I took a couple of pictures of him, but chose this one, as I thought the pensive expression he has was the most interesting. Only he knows what he was thinking about.

A man on a boat in Singapore

I then spotted the three men perched on the low rocks at the waters edge fishing. I never saw if they caught anything but based on the amount of fresh fish that you can find at all the hawker food centres, there must be some good potential to catch something.

Men Fishing in Singapore

Jacobs goes into administration

I saw a tweet from British Journal of Photography last week confirming that Jacobs has gone into administration, and will close all but one store with immediate affect.

This is sad news. What I find strange is that a chain like Jessops can continue to trade, and trade well judging by the further store they’ve just added on Oxford Street, and yet Jacobs has failed, despite always seeming to be the ‘better’ shop, with staff who seemed to actually be photographers, rather than just retail assistants.

It was rumoured Calumet might come in and make an offer, but this doesn’t seem to have materialised.

Who needs a ‘proper’ camera when you’ve got instagram on your phone?

If you have a mobile phone which is less than a few years old, you will no doubt have a pretty decent camera on it. I’ve just upgraded to the HTC One X, which comes with a 8 mega pixel camera. It’s has a 28mm lens, with it’s widest aperture being f/2.0. Which gives you some good flexibility for taking a range of shots in a number of conditions. If you’ve seen any photos taken on a phone recently, you will no doubt have been very impressed with their quality too. Add to this the range of specific photo apps you can now get, which allow you to add arty affects, and you might question why you would need to bother getting a proper camera.

The problem is, your phone, and Instagram style apps, are not very flexible. And whilst the photos on the phone itself, or on Facebook/Twitter, look decent, if you ever wanted to print them out and make large prints from them, they would look pretty poor very quickly.

There’s a good reason why the latest top of the range cameras from Canon and Nikon cost in the £5k region for just the body, and some long zoom lenses getting up to £10k, and that’s because they will produce the highest optical quality for any situation. You’d certainly question your wedding photographer if they just turned up with an iPhone loaded with Instagram.

8 mega pixels might sound like quite a lot, but it’s not just this number that equates to a good image. The sensor on which the camera captures the light, is also a crucial part, and on a phone, these sensors are still very limited. For example, in dark conditions, you will need to adjust (or at least the camera automatically does it for you) the sensitivity of the sensor to light. The benefit is that you can still take photos at night, or indoors, but the downside is that you will introduce a lot of ‘noise’ to the image, massively reducing the overall quality of the picture. You can see noise in an image when it looks ‘pixalated’, which is even more noticeable should you want to increase the size of the shot. Try taking a photo with your phone, in low light, and then printing it out at A3. I bet it looks awful. You might be thinking, “hang on, what about the flash?” and it’s fair to say of course that by using the flash you can increase the light in the picture meaning the sensor doesn’t have to be as sensitive, meaning less noise, and in theory a better quality picture. However, the flash on phones, whilst bright, are also very harsh, and often give ‘red-eye’ to anyone unfortunate enough to be standing in the way. A proper flash gun, or even studio lighting will win hands down, every time.

The old adage that the best camera is the one on you, is very true, and these days you will nearly always have your mobile phone on you, and therefore a fairly decent camera, but should you want to do anything more than just show your friends the photo on your phone, or share it on Facebook, you still need the proper equipment, and just as importantly, someone who knows how to use it.

2012 London Marathon

The London Marathon, is one of the largest marathons in the World. The 2012 course came pretty close to my flat as it looped around Canary Wharf and back to the city. I took a walk down to Narrow Street which was packed with spectators, some to support friends and family, others just using the event as an excuse for a midday drink. The marathon is something I’d never contemplate doing, so I have great respect for the runners who make a great commitment and some personal sacrifices to achieve the distance.

3 Marathon Runners near the front

Volunteers hand out substantial amounts of water

Hundreds of supports lined the bridge at the Limehouse Marina


Steve McCurry


Portraits - Steve McCurry

Magnum photographer Steve McCurry (@McCurryStudio)never set out to take portraits. Critically acclaimed and recognized internationally for his classic reportage, over the last 20 years he has worked for the “National Geographic” and other publications on numerous assignments: along the Afghan border, in Baghdad, Beirut and the Sahel. McCurry’s coverage of the monsoon won first prize in the World Press Awards, and was part of his portfolio when he was named Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1984. In 1985, McCurry photographed an Afghan girl for the “National Geographic”. The intensity of the subject’s eyes and her compelling gaze made this one of contemporary photography’s most celebrated and best-known portraits. McCurry is now equally famous for his other portrayals of memorable faces that he has encountered while travelling throughout the world. Compelling, unforgettable and moving, McCurry’s images are unique street portraits: unstylized and unposed snapshots of people that reveal the universality of human emotion.

View on Amazon

The Unguarded Moment

The Unguarded Moment - Steve McCurry

The title of this book is a phrase that Steve McCurry uses a lot when talking about his work – he is always trying to capture those ‘unguarded moments’ when people are at their most unselfconscious and natural. McCurry takes photographs all over the world, for National Geographic magazine and his own projects, so this book includes the places, colours and forms of Yemen, Mali, Niger, Chad, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), France and the former Yugoslavia, among others. “The Unguarded Moment” is the same size as South Southeast, but apart from the wider range of countries and continents covered, another key difference between the two titles is that all the images in this new book are landscape format. In “The Unguarded Moment”, people go about their everyday business in extraordinary circumstances and settings, like the young tea vendor wading through the waist-deep monsoon waters in India, the fishermen casting their nets in the Niger river in Mali’s Sahel Desert and the boy working in a candy factory in Kabul, Afghanistan. This book includes striking portraits of a Tuareg woman in Mali, an intense you ng gypsy boy in Marseille, France and pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. There are children paying close attention to their teachers in school rooms in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as five young monks happily playing with computer games at a monastery in India, just like any other boys their age would.

View on Amazon

In the Shadow of Mountains

In The Shadow Of Mountains - Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has covered many areas of international and civil conflict, including the Iran-Iraq war, Beirut, Cambodia, the Philippines and the Gulf war, but his continuing coverage of Afghanistan is perhaps his greatest achievement. It was with his first images of Afghanistan that McCurry established his reputation as a photojournalist. In 1979, disguised in native dress, McCurry crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled Afghanistan, shortly before Soviet troops invaded in support of the failing Marxist government. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes, images which would be published around the world as among the first to show the conflict there. His coverage won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise. Throughout his career McCurry has returned to Afghanistan time and time again – under different regimes and at times of civil unrest – to document the people, the landscape and the heritage of this troubled, yet captivating, country. Each image is accompanied by a brief text providing geographical and historical background.

View “In The Shadow Of Mountains” on Amazon

Morocco, Part 1 – Marrakesh

I took an 11 day trip to Morocco in February 2012, which kicked off with three nights in Marrakesh. This was my first visit and I was advised by my partner who had visited before that two nights would probably be enough, and she was right. The main reason most people come to Marrakesh is for is the markets, or Souks, as they call them, and to be honest, whilst these are initially very impressive, I quickly found them to be tedious, and unfortunately for me, Marrakesh had little else to offer.

Being a white Westerner, you are an easy target for the local stall holders, who all assume you have lots of money to spend on their goods. They have many tried and tested opening gambits to strike up an initial conversation with you, and at first this banter is enjoyable and one of the reasons for visiting. However, it quickly becomes very tiring. They do not appreciate the concept of ‘just browsing’. Surely if you are in a market, you are there to shop right? What they don’t realise is that the whole Medina is a tourist attraction itself.

That said Marrakesh and the Medina in particular, is a visual delight. There are lots and lots of small streets, heaving with pedestrians both local and visiting; add to that locals riding about on small mopeds, and traders wheeling carts and it all becomes quite hectic. All of the goods on sale are very colourful, and coupled with all of the spices and food, the place is a feast for the senses.

We stayed right in the centre of the Medina in a riad called ‘Riad des Sables’, which was owned by a French lady called Katy. Her hospitality was very welcoming, and I did not tire of the offer of mint tea whenever we came back. As is typical, the riad was calm, cool, and quite, which made for a great haven from the bustling streets right outside.

In the evenings, we tended to eat from the food stalls out in the main square. The food was simple, and delicious and was enjoyed by more locals than tourists, who tended to go for the more expensive and obvious restaurants.

Marrakesh is clearly one of the ‘must see’ destinations of the world, but for me, just one night would be enough. I would recommend it as a starting point to a greater adventure through the rest of Morocco, just make sure you have a big enough bag for all your purchases.