In the first of a series of articles on SmartFrame’s Ambassadors, Latvian-based photographer Janis Pipars discusses his work and why he uses SmartFrame
SmartFrame: Did you study photography or were you self taught?
Janis Pipars: I graduated from the Latvian Academy of Culture with a degree in art, but I was already a professional photographer at the point, having worked for several local agencies and newspapers. Early on, I started to work as a freelance photojournalist for international agencies, and I had plenty of assignments for The New York Times and Time magazine, as well as several other US publications.
Later on, I switched to the Anzenberger Agency, which is based in Austria, but now I’m completely freelance. I still have occasional international assignments from magazines and The New York Times, but my main areas of focus are commercial work and unit stills for movies.
S: How did you get into unit stills photography?
JP: We have a small market in Latvia, so we tend to work on all kinds of assignments. For the project Survive (below), I was commissioned by a company called Film Solutions, who are based in Los Angeles but are also represented in the UK, after a friend of mine mentioned me as a possible candidate. It came down to three people, and in the end, they chose me.
That ended in December, but just before the COVID-19 crisis, I was commissioned for an action movie, which was filmed here in Latvia. We’re actually still in production; the second phase will start after travel limitations have been lifted.
S: A lot of your work on your Instagram page is documentary-focused. Do you still do a lot of that now?
JP: The documentary work is really in the past. But it depends; if a magazine wanted me to do it, I would still do it.
S: How did you come to use SmartFrame?
JP: I had a bad experience with my images online. I used to cover major worldwide events, and I had my work in many international publications. I noticed that a local online publication started to republish my pictures on their streams, without my permission. I spotted this just by Googling myself, and while I wasn’t against it, I felt that credits here were critical.
I thought that it would be nice to have a service that could track such behavior online. Small online publications were not the main market for me, but it’s crucial to support them for the sake of journalism’s role in society. In some cases, all I would want is for my images to be credited.
After a while, I started to use Adobe’s Portfolio service, which was low in maintenance and had additional security measures against illegal image copying, but the layout design choices were limiting. That was the reason I moved to my own hosted web server.
Then I found out about SmartFrame. It wasn’t easy at the beginning because of support issues from my web service provider, but then the magic started. Now everybody can share my photos, and see them on low- or high-resolution devices properly, and even zoom into them, with my credentials preserved. So that gives me peace of mind.