The Village Voice, Over & Out…

After 62 wonderful years, the final print edition of The Village Voice got dropped into the familiar red boxes on the streets of New York this morning.

Besides looking back at six decades of Voice history, the issue features a photo essay by Celeste Sloman of some the people who have worked for the paper over the years. She shot everyone at a final party that was held a week ago at the Downtown Community Television Center in TriBeCa. Portraits of Robert Christgau, Sylvia Plachy, Michael Musto, Lucian Truscott IV, Peter Noel, Robert Newman, Amy Taubin, Jerry Saltz, Joe Conason, Joe Levy, Guy Trebay, James Hamiltom, Susan Brownmiller, original publisher Ed Fancher and many, many, many more graced 50 pages of the issue. It payed respect to these people in a way never before seen at the end of a publications lifespan. It was gorgeous.

I’ve only been contributing to the collective history of the paper for the past couple of years. My pal Andrew Horton got me in shortly after he became Design Director. It wasn’t a lot, but it was honestly some of the best work I’ve ever done.

I am going to miss The Voice. Terribly…

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Screaming At Adobe May Actually Have Helped…!!!

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As any of the regular viewers of the Damn Ugly Channel can attest (and by regular, I mean those who have stuck with me through this past Summers marked lack of action in here!), I have been a rather vocal opponent to Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription scheme. I made my feelings about their plans to charge $20/month to use Photoshop (and Lightroom, Behance, and have access to a 20GB Cloud Storage account) very well known, as I saw it for what it was…a blatant money grab! The smart kids in class realized very early on that moving to a subscription-based pricing scheme wasn’t about innovation and the seamless transfer of upgrades to its end-users, as Adobe claimed…no, the writing was on the wall that in order to keep their business going, Adobe had to do something to lock in a steady cash flow since it was obvious they weren’t gonna stay profitable forever relying on periodic upgrade fees alone. There are only so many new gizmos and filters they could add to any piece of software before the end user wouldn’t care and bail on paying for upgrades. Now comes word that all that screaming from the mountaintop by those of us in the Photo Community may have have a positive outcome as Adobe just announced a “New” Photoshop Photography Program…only $10/month…forever…if you’re already a Photoshop user (minimum CS3) and you sign up buy the end of the year.

Now by lowering the subscription price to $120/year, it kinda brings the cost down to what have been historically what users paid if they were fastidious about sticking to the Adobe upgrade path. But as good a move in the right direction as this might be, I’m not exactly ‘rejoicing’ at the news, as the PetaPixel Photo Blog suggests all photographers should be doing just yet. At ten bucks a month even I can’t come up with too many arguments for not joining…except one…why isn’t Adobe addressing the biggest issue with their plan for an ongoing subscription model…the lack of any viable exit strategy for loyal users once they get off the subscription track?!! I mean, I’m not planning my retirement party just yet, but there will come a day when I won’t wanna fork over even $10/month for occasional access to a program I will use sparingly at best! All Adobe would have to do to win over the entire Photo Community would be to say that after you’ve paid into “The Cloud” for a period of time…say three, four or even five years…the end user can end their subscription and their software will be locked in at that level of upgrade. This would ensure the user could still have full working access to their work and Adobe will have made a healthy profit over the subscription time frame. And best of all for Adobe, should that user decide at a later date that it is once again necessary to get back on “The Cloud”, then they would have to pay whatever the going rate was at that time to re-subscribe and build time credits towards the next allowed jumping off point.

See…very simple…why can’t everyone just listen to Damn Ugly Photography?!! But let me know…what do you think of Adobe’s price drop?

R.I.P. Bert Stern

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Bert Stern was one of the first photographers whose work turned me on to photography. His ‘Last Sitting’ of Marilyn Monroe made him famous, but even as a kid, I can remember being drawn to his images in magazines. Advertising and editorial pages in the 60’s and 70’s were plastered with his work. His portfolio could be used to illustrate just about everything you see on “Mad Men”. Later, when I become more and more involved in photography, I learned who he was. I bought a book of his early work that I have to this day. Looking at the photographs in that book brought back all those memories of my early childhood and like a lightbulb going off over my head, it was then I knew I was meant to be a photographer. For me, he defined what a photographer was all about. He was single-minded in his passion for creating memorable imagery. His work transcended commercial photography…he was seen as a cultural hero…a straight-up Rock Star. And for more than a decade he was the most sought-out guy in the business. But the excess, copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and failed relationships took its toll and he quite literally burned out and disappeared from the business. He resurfaced in the late 80’s as a kinder, gentler, Bert, but the World had changed and the days of jetting off to Egypt to shoot a martini glass in the sand were long gone…

Bert died Tuesday. He was 83.

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Adobe & Goldman Sachs – A Match Made In Heaven?!!

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It’s Friday afternoon, and to close out my week-long rant against the proposed Adobe Creative Cloud, just in case there are any of you out there who still don’t believe that what Adobe is doing amounts to a straight-up money grab, I offer you this to chew on…

Quoted from a Goldman Sachs research report on the subject:

With the announced update of Adobe’s flagship content authoring tools Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign the company rebranded them Creative Cloud instead of Creative Suite and stated that the new editions would only be available on a subscription basis. Further, the company stated that going forward all new features for these apps would also only be available with the subscription offering. Adobe will continue to sell and support CS6. While our conversations with Max attendees indicate that most found the timing of the move surprising, we view it as likely accelerating adoption of Adobe’s subscription offering…….We believe the lack of VIABLE ALTERNATIVES to the Creative Cloud apps along with the productivity enhancements in the new editions will drive the majority of CS users that are ready to upgrade to migrate to Creative Cloud despite what will likely be a vocal but small backlash.

That was followed with this little nugget:

In a report published Thursday, Goldman Sachs analyst Heather Bellini upgraded the rating on Adobe Systems from Sell to Neutral, and raised the price target from $34.00 to $48.00.

In the report, Bellini noted, “We upgrade ADBE from Sell to Neutral with a 12-month $48 price target. Since we added ADBE to the Sell List on 7/12/11, the stock is up 47% vs. the S&P up 21% (LTM ADBE is up 37% vs. the S&P up 17%). The stock’s relative outperformance comes as investors have given the stock credit for a more normalized operating model post the transition. At around $44 the stock currently trades on 30X consensus’ NTM EPS forecast vs. the three year historic average of 14X on compressed earnings (consensus is at $1.45 for FY13 vs. $2.36 in FY12).”

Adobe Systems closed on Wednesday at $44.70.

So…knowing they have the creative community by the balls because of the lack of “viable alternatives” to their applications, Adobe moves forward with the subscription only pricing scheme…and the biggest investment bank in the game upgrades their stock outlook by more than 40% on the news. And yet there are still those who think Adobe has OUR best interests at heart. If this isn’t a wakeup call, then what is?!!

He’s No Hitler, But This Guy Has A Bone To Pick With Adobe, Too!!!

Yet another unhappy Creative Suite user, Charles Reilly of Lime Productions, posted some very well thought-out observations about The Cloud on his YouTube Channel…

Remember…make sure to head on over to www.change.org and sign the petition to get Adobe to offer us users a choice…they only need a couple hundred more names to hit the magic 15,000 mark!!!