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Author Topic: The new opportunities  (Read 10151 times)
fredjeang
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« on: May 19, 2010, 05:47:19 AM »
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Hi,

It has been discussed several times here and in many other places about the severe changes that are facing the professional photographers, as well as the global trade etc...

Things are changing and changing very fast. Most of the echos are generally pessimistics, part of this profession have the blues.

But in all these technical and social upheavals, there are also new opportunities, new markets, new ways of doing things, new tools of expression etc...

In fact, the paradox is that the profession is facing serious troubles  in an "old-form-of-doing", but there are more possibilities also.
So I'd like this thread to be constructive and it is about how do you see, and where do you see the new oportunities in photographic business.
That could be a good place to post our thoughts on the matter.

Please, and with all my respect for these mediums, I would not like to include here the Flickr's style kind of stuff because I think that it does not fit exactly in this topic.

Regards.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 05:51:33 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2010, 08:43:54 AM »
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Fred

Maybe the problem is that the market has not so much changed completely as shrunk, on the well-paid side, even if it has grown hugely on the 'cheap' side of photographic reward.

I am not blind and do see some beautiful work still taking up space in magazines and even on music videos and commercials; my impression is that whilst still around, there is less of it but it is still going to those guys able to do it and able to make good money from it. That's the 'old' market.

Regarding the new - what do you see? I am told there's much on the internet but I escape it or vice versa; stock used to be worth doing if you had a knack for understanding what was truly generic imagery, but now it is about selling yourself like Amber: 'my tail's for sale; half-a-crown will lay me down'.
Magazines? I don't know they were ever profitable to snappers - seemed, in my limited exprience - to believe in the myth that they were generous to a fault and that you should be paying them for the exposure. Worse, from those that do work with them now, they want all rights for the price of one shooting, and what one provides for one tiltle can then be used for others within the group or even sold externally or as stock!

In essence, I think there probably are more opportunities, but opportunities for the casual photographer, not the guy who has to live or die by it.

Rob C
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mtomalty
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2010, 12:45:24 PM »
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Fred


What is 'Flickr kind of stuff' ?

Does this reference the type of image contained,therein, or do you mean the distribution aspect of the platform?


As far as 'new' ideas go , you might want to look at David Alan Harvey's online  Burn Magazine  (  www.burnmagazine.org )
and specifically the recent post,   http://www.burnmagazine.org/dialogue/2010/...ees-and-dreams/

David is a member of the editorial agency,  Magnum, and is a contract photographer for  National Geographic.

Burn has been around for about two years now and generally features either a new photo essay or single every week or two
with accompanying discussion thread.
Initially his mandate was to give exposure to a variety of content as well as once a year offering a $5000 grant to one recipient to
continue work on a long term project.
He does all the legwork himself to secure funding from individuals and corporations  (all anonymous at this point) to make these funds available.
This year I believe he has available $10,000 in grant money.

Submitting material for these potential grants costs a modest amount as they have gone from a few hundred to many times that.

As a result they now have a surplus and have decided to now pay for published essays and singles-completely unheard of in internet culture.

Nobody is going to get rich, of course, but hats off to David for doing his little bit to challenge the status quo by leveraging his reputation
and contacts to effect some change, however modest.

Mark
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LiamStrain
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2010, 12:56:19 PM »
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One thing that I'm running into, doing some product work, is having to work more closely with rendered content creators. In a most recent example, I shot a location and provided a lighting and position/angle diagram, and the renderer put the product (and it's many variations) within.

To that, I think obviously, some opportunities are going to continue be in collaboration with other digital content creation...
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 12:56:50 PM by LiamStrain » Logged

fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2010, 01:35:57 PM »
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Quote from: LiamStrain
One thing that I'm running into, doing some product work, is having to work more closely with rendered content creators. In a most recent example, I shot a location and provided a lighting and position/angle diagram, and the renderer put the product (and it's many variations) within.

To that, I think obviously, some opportunities are going to continue be in collaboration with other digital content creation...
I'm currently exploring this way also, it is very interesting indeed as my approach is based a lot on post-production and the shooting just one small part of it. For the moment I an on improoving more the tech before releasing things out with this medium.
I've also been really impressed recently by the increment in quality in arquitecture rendering.
For what I know, landscapes are going to improve to a point that I won't be surprise if an editorial will de made in the studio with the model but the background will be rendered with results that are almost impossible to acheive (or too costly) in traditional way.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2010, 02:02:28 PM by fredjeang » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2010, 03:02:34 PM »
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I think we are getting into willing rape territory.

All this, it seems to me, is that photographers are getting so deperate that they are willing to grasp at straws and think them logs. It looks to be nothing short of contributing to the ever decreasing relevance of the photographer as creator.  Far from opportunity it looks like side-lining.

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2010, 04:12:13 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
I think we are getting into willing rape territory.

All this, it seems to me, is that photographers are getting so deperate that they are willing to grasp at straws and think them logs. It looks to be nothing short of contributing to the ever decreasing relevance of the photographer as creator.  Far from opportunity it looks like side-lining.

Rob C
There are some photographers who actually combine the best of both words: http://images.google.es/images?q=Gregory%2...sa=N&tab=wi

Traditional techniques with view camera with heavy digital production.

One does not have to kill the other. It just open IMO new lines of creativity.

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fredjeang
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2010, 05:04:46 PM »
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Quote from: mtomalty
Fred


What is 'Flickr kind of stuff' ?

Does this reference the type of image contained,therein, or do you mean the distribution aspect of the platform?



Mark
Thank you Mark for these interesting infos.

Cheers.
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TMARK
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2010, 07:22:37 PM »
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I think that being a "Photographer" and a photographer only, is over if you want to make a living.  Maybe not for some genres, like architecture, but for most types of photography, you have to offer more than just pressing the button and lighting a scene.  You need to be responsible for concepting and producing all of the imagery for a client, concept it, write it, direct it, shoot it, retouch it, edit it, color grade it, score it, and deliver the product.  You need to be a partner with your clients, insert yourself into their work flow.  Oh yeah, and do it for the same price you shot stills only for the client last year.   In this world, where are their new opportunities for stills only photographers?  The answer is there are few that I see, but lots of areas where you can extend your skills to meet the demand for composting, retouching, editing, lighting etc.

I'm sure I'm leaving something out, but with technology as it is today, and the middle and low end of the market being taken over by weekend warriors and people looking for validation rather than a living, the only place to go is up.  

In short my list of opportunities and market growth do not entail new markets for stills, but rather "Allied Photography Fields", such as:

                   Web design, digital asset management, videography, film/video production, writing, directing, CGI, editing, retouching.  

All of these skills should be taught at a school where the admissions test is drawing a turtle.

Its a bleak world out there, really, but you can still make a living, just adjust the expectations.

Edited to add:  I feel so bad for these kids I saw at the NYPhoto Fest.  They are all so eager and hopeful but man, they are good shooters barely making a living assisting.  They are following a broken model, and it hurts to think that only one out of 50 will make a nice living shooting.  Not scraping by, but actually prospering.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2010, 07:28:32 PM by TMARK » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2010, 02:32:08 AM »
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TMARK

Yes, you are right on the money, but where I beg to differ is the timing: it isn't recent, this aiming upwards and doing more. It is exactly what I had to do in the mid-to-late 70s when my bread 'n' butter fashion died and I went into design, photography and production of company calendars which I was only able to do because of having done quite a lot of stuff for ad agencies and understood much about how they produced.

Yes, I made more money - whilst the market lasted - and I had far more control over most of it but there was a downside that also carried much weight and impact: many more eggs sat in very few baskets; great personal financial risk was being run (even if I wasn't quite conscious enough about it at the time) and I was ever more dependent on companies being willing to spend a lot of money on print. Even back then, you could forget any firm unable to order more than about 3,500 units; they belonged in the printers' stock calendar market.

However, it gave some damn good times and experiences I could never have provided for myself without the clients. In a nutshell: I wish that for me those times were rolling still.

Long may yours keep doing it!

Rob C
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fredjeang
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« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2010, 04:22:13 AM »
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TMARK and Rob, you are both pointing differently a same idea that I agree with.

IMO things are going (and are going to go) in the extremes.

-On one side, All this integration, let's call it a sort of "all-in-one-package" (may I say "mergence" or con-mergence?) is going to be acheived by a reduced professional studios/photographers
in the high-end market.
-while 80% of the work (middle and low-end market) will probably be done by "week end warriors".

This is not new actually, it works like that in web design for awhile. I see a lot of design, some are very very good indeed.
But then, it does not work properly with I.E or Safari, usability is a mess etc...There you see the difference with a real pro team
with designer, programmer, developper etc...and the friend or nephew's web experimentations.
The middle, low-end client does not want to pay what a proper pro team will ask for and he is ready to deal with the nephew's issues in order to
save money.

But if you take for example the rendering aspect, it is not true that any week-end shooter will be able to acheive the required standard for serious clients.
These are very heavy stuff, you have to spend a lot of time on it to be good, you have to learn a lot, lots of hours/day just for the learning.
I'm exploring this path now and what I can say is that IS NOT made for the casual shooter or week-end warrior. They will not enter this because the amont of personal investment is too high.
Actually, I reached a point where I'm stuck, and need to find a Guru in Madrid for classes because I do not have the time (neither want) to deal with the learning curve by myself.

Then, a personal style, I mean a very very singular style is probably a key factor.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2010, 02:00:26 PM by fredjeang » Logged
Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2010, 03:27:55 PM »
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I see the oppourtunity as 'stills and motion'

if not one operator one creative vision


a still (one of many)
ecohouse

and a film shot on the same day
ecohouse

S

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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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JonathanBenoit
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« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2010, 04:45:09 PM »
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Nothing worth doing, ever comes easy.

"Web design, digital asset management, videography, film/video production, writing, directing, CGI, editing, retouching. "
Basically you are a handyman. A client looks at this list of "specialties" and realizes you aren't exceptional at anything, so why bother hiring you.

You've decided to be average at multiple things over being great at one thing. It's sad.
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LiamStrain
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« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2010, 05:07:15 PM »
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It used to be those were all clearly delineated professions... it is now rare that you find someone who specializes (for example,the scanning techs who worked with the retouchers, and who now are the same person... or with the photographer providing the scans instead, and primary retouching already done by the photographer). And it seems, even more rare that clients are paying for all those roles... some do, sure... but in this market at least, it seems the mono-task roles are drying up.
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JonathanBenoit
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2010, 06:23:40 PM »
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Quote from: LiamStrain
It used to be those were all clearly delineated professions... it is now rare that you find someone who specializes (for example,the scanning techs who worked with the retouchers, and who now are the same person... or with the photographer providing the scans instead, and primary retouching already done by the photographer). And it seems, even more rare that clients are paying for all those roles... some do, sure... but in this market at least, it seems the mono-task roles are drying up.


Some of those are grouped. Photographers need to be able to edit and manage their images. Web design has nothing to do with photography unless you want to design your own photography website. Offering web design when you are a photographer is like listing your rates on your website. It's counter productive and very unprofessional. You can say the same about a photographer who does copy(writing) and CGI. They are very good skills if you are good at one of them, but you probably aren't. Where does it end? Should you offer landscaping services as well?

The statements you are all making come from the fact that you don't actually have an area of photography that you excel in. You cant complain about anything except that your work or business skills aren't very good.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2010, 06:36:43 PM »
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Quote from: JonathanBenoit
Some of those are grouped. Photographers need to be able to edit and manage their images. Web design has nothing to do with photography unless you want to design your own photography website. Offering web design when you are a photographer is like listing your rates on your website. It's counter productive and very unprofessional. You can say the same about a photographer who does copy(writing) and CGI. They are very good skills if you are good at one of them, but you probably aren't. Where does it end? Should you offer landscaping services as well?

The statements you are all making come from the fact that you don't actually have an area of photography that you excel in. You cant complain about anything except that your work or business skills aren't very good.

I quite enjoy the sense of humor and the humbleness arrownd here...

I guess all those "peripherical" activities make sense when talking about a studio. I've been a professional designer and involved in the web for some time, and I know how serious it is, and how we see too much time the nephew's web experiments. Yes, but unprofessionality in web design did exists much before the photographers are starting to propose web design. I won't be surprised if some will do better than some official-pro-web-designers.

About the copy, yes, I had a bad copy for a while and it was just horrible. A good copy is a profession and I'm fully aware of the importance of seriousness. Etc...
But nothing stops you to surrownd yourself with professional and talented team. In fact, the art of surrownding one self with the right people is very important.

On the other hand, the reason why I'm exploring the render stuff is not because I think it will open me new pro doors but because I enjoy it and it gives me more freedom in certain things I'm currently doing.
To me, the overall circus about the "purist" of photography is just pure intelectual speculation. As soon as you put a light on the scene you are using tricks.

All that matters is the final image and the consistency of the work and talent whether you use a 50euros Lubitel or a 50 000euros P65 and 20 techs or whatever tricks, softwares and retouching, it is all about the same: doing really good images with your heart and your own style. And there is no divine law that defines the tools and the way one choose in order to acheive the final image.

If that leads you to earn money, prestige or whatever medal that's great, if not that's great also as soon as you enjoy and you are authentic.

The one task craft is not over IMO, but you seem to see a correspondance between one task=professional, excelence and  multitask=unprofessional, sadness.
Well, I can tell you that I've seen so far in my life, and I've seen quite a lot to actually opine on that matter,  some one-task's men very unprofessional and untalented, so I can not beleive this rule as a one to follow in order to excell. An example of talented multi task man: Chaplin.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2010, 08:13:56 PM by fredjeang » Logged
mmurph
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2010, 07:58:04 PM »
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Well, "opportunity" is in the eye of the beholder I think.

After getting an undergraduate degree in photography, I made about $9,000 a year officially when I was in my twenties. (Plus a few extra dollars unofficially from bike racing, which you can imagine was quite lucrative ...  I had a $500 car with a $2,500 bike in the trunk ...)  

Eventually life catches up with you though, and you need a car, and health insurance, and steady meals, etc.  As you become more "middle class" and acquire more professional skills, you start to realize what is called the "opportunity cost" of your time. That is, how much you could be making with all of the other, potentially competing career/life opportuinities.

With the new digital skills required in photography, you can't help but look at the types of salaries that folks with similar computer/digital workflow skills are earning (at least prior to the last few years.)  People just graduating from school with a bachelor degree, with basic computer, design, and web skills, could easily start out with a salary of $60,000 a year or more.  

At an average of 2000 hours per year, that comes to about $30 an hour, guarenteed, day after day. As a freelancer, with unpaid "overhead" costs - email time, meetings, initial customer contact, negotiations, etc. that isn't directly compensated, you need to make at least $60 an hour to match that starting salary. (Different billing basis for creative, but ...)

So with maybe 10-15 years of experience, with solid project management, interpersonal, and other organizational skills, it was possible to make $100K to $200K a year in "complimentary" fields, along with health insurance, retirement, etc., using the same basic skill sets.  There are lots of different "chimneys" in business and photography, but there aren't many purely creative photography jobs that were paying that type of equivent wages, and of course no real security to most of them.

So as you get to be middle aged, and maybe have children and more resposnisiblity, there is a real question of what would be ideal vs. what needs to be done now to make a living, at least for a while.  Just like a lot of teachers might rather be doing more personal photography work and teaching less, but at least they have a career aligned with the profession of their choice.

But that is the context within which you need to evaluate so-called "opportiunities."  I know some photo jobs would barely cover the rental fees for the photo equipment (that I owned) that I would bring to a job. It got to make more sense to just send the equipment out on a rental than to actually go out myself. And for an opportunity to match the equivalent hourly wage of some competing jobs - like helping to create a custom, proprietary, multi-million dollar digital asset management system - plus the capital costs of the equipment, etc. Well, a lot of so called "opportunities" don't even come close to what you can earn with the same skills.

Sorry, a bit rambling. I have been thinking about this in general since your first post in this sub-forum Fred. Full disclosure, I haven't been working for 3 years since I closed my studio due to chronic pain. But I am thinking about my options going forward, I'll need to have another career to get me to "retirement" maybe 10-15 years down the road.....  

I am thinking, too,, that maybe we need to ask for a $5,000 "retainer" up front from clients to save wasted time with all of these folks that think $200 is a lot of money ...  That barely covers the up front e-mails and phone calss top figure out what a job might entail ...

Best,
Michael
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TMARK
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« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2010, 09:59:58 PM »
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It's a list of opportunities, not a resume.  

Quote from: JonathanBenoit
Nothing worth doing, ever comes easy.

"Web design, digital asset management, videography, film/video production, writing, directing, CGI, editing, retouching. "
Basically you are a handyman. A client looks at this list of "specialties" and realizes you aren't exceptional at anything, so why bother hiring you.

You've decided to be average at multiple things over being great at one thing. It's sad.
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TMARK
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2010, 10:05:23 PM »
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When was the last time you shot a campaign through a major ad agency?  I know you shoot buildings, but for ad agencies?  What is your usage?  What kind of clients do you have?  I wouldn't presume to tell you how your market works.  Don't presume to tell me how my market works.  And really, the rest of your comment is insulting, probably because the changes in the world scare you, disrupt a romantic notion of some type.  

I can say for myself, my business skills are just fine, thanks.  



Quote from: JonathanBenoit
It's counter productive and very unprofessional. You can say the same about a photographer who does copy(writing) and CGI. They are very good skills if you are good at one of them, but you probably aren't. Where does it end? Should you offer landscaping services as well?

The statements you are all making come from the fact that you don't actually have an area of photography that you excel in. You cant complain about anything except that your work or business skills aren't very good.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2010, 10:38:30 PM by TMARK » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2010, 04:24:48 AM »
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Quote from: TMARK
When was the last time you shot a campaign through a major ad agency?  I know you shoot buildings, but for ad agencies?  What is your usage?  What kind of clients do you have?  I wouldn't presume to tell you how your market works.  Don't presume to tell me how my market works.  And really, the rest of your comment is insulting, probably because the changes in the world scare you, disrupt a romantic notion of some type.  

I can say for myself, my business skills are just fine, thanks.

I do agree with TMARK.

Your post Jonathan surprised me, I guess you were in a bad day.

Actually, talking about copy and agencies, what I see a lot of time is that photographer's editorial or reportage and what's published or used is another story.
Jonathan, If you think that most ADs are really that good, in fact it is exactly the opposite. And the same about copy.

IMO, at least in advertising and fashion that if photographers are starting to do the copy works and get involved into a kind of agency services, that would significate averageness and unprofessionality? On the contrary, I guess it will depend on how serious, experienced and talented is the team. I'm for multitask and multitask services.

And more experienced and talented the photographer is, more this is going to be relevant, because there are proportionally much more talented and experienced photographers than talented and experienced AD. When I see the released stuff and what's been really shooted I want to cry in 70% of the cases.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2010, 06:16:54 AM by fredjeang » Logged
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