or in this case, an awful lot of “hits” and growth for artist WrenNoir Cerise!
For all of us who have been up-in-arms over the SL TOS situation, this inspirational story may help you find some confidence and hope for the future of creativity and artists rights inside Second Life. Nu Vibez’ own WrenNoir Cerise, a super talented SL photographer, has made the mainstream of Second Life with the inclusion of her work on the Second Life websites and marketing, world-wide. The hope-inducing part of this is how Linden Labs contacted her to ask her permission to use HER art. It would appear, to the benefit of “good,” their actions do not mimic their words.
Beyond that though, this easy-to-work with, talented woman is up to so much more than taking pictures of friends, lovers, scenes, stores and products. Have you ever wanted to really truly learn how the magic happens between the click of the camera and the finished piece? No problem, Wren has started an amazing Photography School to give you EVERYTHING you ever wanted to know but couldn’t get an answer to!
FILIPA: We are here today with our very own WrenNoir Cerise who is herself, a very inspirational story! Welcome Wren, tell us about the magnificent and talented woman behind that luscious avatar :).
WREN: Ah, you are making me blush! I’m just a simple girl behind an SL camera, really, and just happened to have lucked out with some artistic genes. In RL I am an artist working in all sorts of media: drawing, painting, pottery, jewelry making, and altered crafts, but NOT photography. In SL I am a photographer first and foremost.
FILIPA: You have worked with Nu Vibez as a photographer since the January 2014 issue Wren, much to our great appreciation! But tell us, how did you get into photography in the first place and how long have you been at it to have developed such mad skills?
WREN: It’s a funny story. I didn’t really get into photography until I wanted clothes that I could not afford. Champagne! Sparkling Couture had outfits I wanted and they also happened to have a monthly photography contest in which the winner gets lots of credit in the store. I bought the cheapest outfit I could afford, styled it, shot a photo, touched it up in Photoshop (learned that in RL college), and submitted it. It was to my absolute amazement that I got first place the first month I tried! That got me totally addicted to photography. Enzo Champagne believed in me when I was a nobody. I am infinitely grateful to him to this day. That was April 2012 with this photo:
FILIPA: As I recall, your history in the fashion world is not limited to your photography. You are a former Miss Virtual World competitor are you not? We are curious how your path through the illustrious world of SL modeling brought you where you are today.
WREN: I am an accidental model, to be honest. I get myself in competitions because they all start out with photo submissions. If my photo gets chosen, I dash around and try to figure out how to pose and walk. Thankfully, I have some decent style sense that comes from all that artsy stuff in my genes. For the MVW competition, I really didn’t know how to walk a runway so my entry into that contest stopped at that first photo. However, after that I learned a few things. I was Runner Up for a few contests such as Solo Evane, PurpleMoon Mix & Match contest (where I work as a store model now due to that contest), the Ashraya contest, and OGlam. I was a finalist for other contests like Chop Zuey, TCL Dior, and Vero Modero. At the moment, I am a FineSmith Muse finalist. I am also the winner of the Miss Darcy Seasons of Beauty contest. I also made it through a styling competition for Posesion Poses. I’m thrilled about all of that, but still see myself as a fumbling little avatar.
FILIPA: Wow, I look at all those contests and knowing full well what it takes to enter and then participate in them well, that’s a lot of work, kudos to you! But … we are gathered here today to share something very exciting for your career in photography are we not? You were recently contacted by Linden Labs about a photograph of yours. Besides the obvious excitement over the reason why for the contact, we felt it poignant, in the heat of the TOS nightmare, to share what they had to say to you or rather, ask you. Won’t you, in your words, tell us what happened, what they asked and what has transpired since?
WREN: It was a very simple Flickr e-mail that arrived from an SL account last month. Basically, they asked if I would be willing to give them permission to use one of my photographs for the SL login page. They also requested an e-mail where they could send the permission form that I was to fill out and return to the LL Legal Department.
FILIPA: I must say, to spite all the negative press surrounding the new SL TOS, it brings great hope to my heart that they obviously recognized your ownership of your art. How did they exactly word their request?
WREN: Yes, I absolutely agree!! The Permission Agreement stated: “Linden Lab requests your permission to use the images and/or designs created or prepared by you … in connection with the development, reproduction, and distribution of the AV Material and all later editions of it, for Marketing Purposes in English and all foreign language translations, by Linden Lab or its successors or licensees throughout the world in all media now known or hereafter devised.” My permission is a world-wide, non-exclusive, royalty-free (or free-of-charge), perpetual, sub-license-able, and transferable license to use, display, distribute, perform, copy, modify, and prepare derivative works of the Content as described and requested. The image was identified so it did not give them permission to use just any photo, but rather one particular one.
FILIPA: At first blush all that might make many creators in SL nervous, it may seem like they just took all rights away from you but knowing IP law the way I do, I’ll just take a sec to clarify that they have gained the rights to use that photo always with your name attached as creator, for the marketing of SL, world-wide and that this is not anything out of the ordinary in business. It’s a fabulous opportunity for you and your visibility! So, with that said, how has having your photography on the home page of both the www.SecondLife.com website AND the http://Marketplace.SecondLife.com sites affected you and your photography business?
WREN: As you can imagine, I’ve had more requests for photos, friendships, and even people offering to be my model (that is not necessary, so please don’t anyone get any ideas of doing that). More people follow my Flickr account now too. It has also been wonderful for my existing clients who are now happier than ever that I am their photographer. I want to say that they were happy enough before with just my photos, but I think this made them happier. lol
FILIPA: Ah but you are not just a photographer offering her services for a fee are you? As I recall, you recently shared with us some information about a photography school you are opening. Tell us about it? What inspired the school? Who else is involved in its creation, its operation and to teach the students?
WREN: Myself and Nariko Okawa opened VISIONAIRE Institute in January of this year. We had many people through the years ask us various questions on technique and processes that we felt there was a need for people to know how to take a good photo in SL. So the school was started. We have also started another group for current professional SL photographers to come together and discuss whatever is on their mind — from specific skill sets to questions about the SL photography business. There was a big need for that as well. The SL photographers that I have known do not have a venue for getting together and discussing their craft. This is desperately needed so that we can evaluate what we do, grow, learn, and perfect our craft
WREN: We want people to be able to take the photos they have always wanted to take but didn’t have the skills to pull it off. We want a generation of expert photographers to keep pushing the envelope of just what can be done in SL. That will also help keep current SL photography professionals on their toes and not be stagnant. We want a vibrant artistic community!
FILIPA: So, if I were a student, what could I learn and what would you be arming me with at the end of my courses? What I mean is, what sort of skills will I possess and what might I be able to do with them?
WREN: What sets our school apart (and this is from our students) is that we teach our students to SEE. We don’t want to produce mini-Wrens or mini-Narikos, but rather to find and encourage the best the student can be. We teach them how to evaluate their own photos as well as photos in general. We teach them the tools available in SL, concepts such as composition, lighting, color theory, even the business aspect of doing photography in SL. We do not teach them how to use post-processing programs such as Photoshop or Gimp. We give them tutorial links for that. There’s no reason to spend time on things they can do on their own. We give them homework and at the beginning of each class we do an art critique. The students learn a lot from the feedback and learn to SEE.
FILIPA: So, where can our readers find out more about the school and how to participate?
WREN: For now people can go to our Campus 2 and subscribe to VISIONAIRE Institute. This is the SLurl: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/New/163/237/21. No group spot required. Subscribers will be the first to get information on when the next semester starts. That should be about mid-April. People can also feel free to IM me or Nariko Okawa and ask any questions they want to ask. We are very accessible.
FILIPA: I have to say Wren, I personally and Nu Vibez as a whole, have been very impressed with your work for some time now! Where can we point readers to take a gander at the magnificent art you create in your SL photography?
WREN: Oh I would love for your readers to look through my Flickr account! Here is the site address: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wrennoir/. Following people is easy on Flickr and they should do it if they want to keep up to date on the most recent posts.
FILIPA: Thank you so much for spending this time with us today Wren, we are so excited for you and your accomplishments! Don’t forget readers, to check out Wren’s website and Flickr. There is much to see here that will sooth your need for eye candy!
WREN: Thank you so much for talking with me, Filipa. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with you at NuVibez!