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March 23rd, 2015

Unique College Program Helps Environmental Orgs See Value of Photography

© Joshua See

Mammalogist Tom Horsley prepares to remove a captured bat from a high-elevation mist-net in Borneo. Joshua See made this photograph while working with the Royal Ontario Museum as a student in the Environmental Visual Communication program. © Joshua See

Conservation photographer Neil Osborne understands how important visual communication can be to environmental and conservation organizations. Photographs, videos and other forms of visual storytelling can help non-profits share their messages and the work they do with wide audiences. Visual storytelling can also serve as an effective fundraising tool. But many nonprofits spend little on photography and other communications efforts, Osborne notes.

He and his colleagues at the Environmental Visual Communication (EVC) program at Toronto’s Fleming College saw an opportunity to match students with nonprofit organizations that need photography, video and other visual communications assets. Over the past three years they’ve developed a “placement partner” system for the EVC, which gives students real-world experience (and, in some cases, payment) while putting their talents to use for good causes. Many students “publish individual and collaborative works before they even graduate,” Osborne notes. In the process of providing “communication strategy and tactics to these groups to enhance and advance their messaging,” students demonstrate to nonprofits how valuable visual storytelling and the expertise of photographers can be in helping them meet their goals. (more…)

March 20th, 2015

On Showing Both Commercial & Fine-Art Work: Emily Shur’s Advice

Emily Shur's photograph of Kevin Hart for Men's Health. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur’s photograph of Kevin Hart for Men’s Health. © Emily Shur

"Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu," is part of Shur's ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

“Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu,” is part of Shur’s ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur recently posted on her Tumblr about two of her images (above) being selected for American Photography 31, each shot for very different purposes. One is a portrait of the comedian Kevin Hart commissioned by Men’s Health; the other, a photograph of a hotel pool in Osaka, Japan, that is part of a long-term personal project. While building her career as a commercial and editorial photographer, Shur has also made a point of showing and promoting her personal projects at portfolio reviews, on her site and to her social media audience. She also recently published a book of her work from Japan.

In her Tumblr post, Shur made some interesting observations about how, in a photographer’s career, the pursuits of commercial work and personal work seem, at times, to be in opposition to one another. She also addressed the concern that it might be detrimental or counterproductive for “commercial photographers” to show personal, fine-art photographs that may appear to differ completely from their commissioned images.

We asked Shur for permission to publish excerpts of her blog post here, because we though it might resonate with readers of PDNPulse who aspire to be successful both commercially and with their personal work.

When I saw what had been selected, I thought that these two images really represent what I love to do but in such different ways. The picture of Kevin Hart is everything I love about celebrity portraiture—a positive, fun, collaborative subject in an interesting setting combined with technique to elevate the moment. The bottom picture is of a pool at a hotel outside of Osaka that my husband and I stayed at for one night at the beginning of our most recent trip to Japan. In the morning I woke up and did what I always do—quietly wandered around the area near the hotel with a camera and some film.

I often have a lot of turmoil (for lack of a better and less dramatic word) about whether or not the different types of work I do are too disparate from each other and if it hurts more than it helps to show everything to everyone. Photography as a profession is a very saturated market these days, and my advice to aspiring photographers is usually to focus hard on a style or genre, and don’t confuse people by showing them too much. In order to stand out, become really good at that one thing and then that thing becomes your stamp. One of the best compliments is, “I saw a picture, and before I saw the credit I knew it was yours.” Generally speaking I think it serves us (working photographers) best to be concise in our vision and maintain a consistent point of view. However, if we only stay in our little boxes, it starts to feel as if there’s no growth, change, or progression.

If you ask me, both images above are sharing the same vision and point of view. They’re both about composition, light, color, and mood. To get even more literal they’re both shot at pools and have zig-zaggy lines in them. But one is so quiet and the other much louder—both technically and in terms of vibe. So, I guess my whole point is that when I get emails from aspiring photographers asking questions, wanting answers and advice, I just want to say that we don’t have all the answers. I’m not saying don’t ask the questions. Definitely ask all the questions, but know that there probably won’t ever be definitive answers. There are still so many aspects of this very weird world I call a job that are unknown to me. The best we can do is make work that we’re proud of and excited about, and hopefully other people will be excited about it, too. How and why that happens is mysterious. Still. It makes me happy to get one image I made for work and one I made for myself into American Photography. I would still like these pictures if they didn’t get in, but it’s nice to get little affirmations along the way since the path is not paved and could really go in any direction.

March 6th, 2015

L.A. Pays $50k to Harassed Photogs, Agrees to Train Sheriff’s Deputies

Los Angeles County has agreed to pay a $50,000 settlement and instruct sheriff’s deputies to respect First Amendment rights to photograph and record their activities, according to a statement released earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the settlement on March 3, 2015, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and photographers Shawn Nee, Greggory Moore and Shane Quentin.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit the ACLU filed on behalf of the photographers in 2011. The suit alleged that L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies violated the photographers’ First and Fourth Amendment rights “by detaining, searching and questioning them for nothing more than taking photographs of Metro Rail turnstiles, oil refineries and traffic whizzing by a court house.”

In accordance with the settlement, the Los Angeles Count Sheriff’s Department delivered a letter to all LASD deputies, stating that “Department members are prohibited from interfering, threatening, intimidating, blocking or otherwise discouraging a member of the public, who is not violating any other law, from taking photographs or recording video (including photographs or video of police activities)…”

Moore was working as a reporter for the Long Beach Post, taking pictures on a public sidewalk for a story about traffic, when he was detained and searched by eight sheriff’s deputies.

LASD deputies detained Nee while he was photographing turnstiles on the Los Angeles Metro, “asking if he planned to sell the photos to al-Qaeda and threatening to put his name on the FBI’s ‘hit list,’” the ACLU SoCal noted in their announcement of the suit.

Quentin, who holds and MFA from University of California, Urvine was detained while photographing the lights of refineries in south Los Angeles.

In a statement about the settlement, ACLU SoCal executive director Hector Villagra called it “a victory for freedom of expression and could improve relations between deputies and the public they serve for years to come.”

The L.A. Weekly heralded the settlement with the headline “Photography Is No Longer A Crime In L.A.

Still, it might behoove photographers working in L.A. to carry a copy of the LASD policy in their camera bags.

February 18th, 2015

Should Photogs Disqualified from World Press Be Banned? Org Says No, For Now

In the days since World Press Photo announced that 20 percent of the photographs they considered in the final rounds of the competition were disqualified for manipulation, many in the industry have called for WPP to release the offending images and make their standards more clear. In comments by jurors, WPP administrators and photographers published on the New York Times Lens Blog, 2015 competition jury chair and New York Times director of photography Michelle McNally noted that the manipulations led “many in the jury to feel we were being cheated, that they were being lied to.” World Press Photo jury secretary David Campbell notes that newspaper and wire service photographers get fired when they are caught manipulating news photos: “Narciso Contreras and Miguel Tova have lost their jobs because of manipulations that crossed the one line we can draw.”

These reactions beg the question: If World Press Photo is a reflection of the photojournalism industry, should photographers who attempted to deceive jurors—and the public—be banned from the competition? After all, newspaper and wire services have fired photographers who manipulated images.

According to World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering, the organization is not currently planning to ban any photographers who submitted manipulated images to the competition. “I might discuss that with the board and the team that is organizing the competition,” he told PDN, adding that “a lot” of the disqualified photos were cases of “clumsy” Photoshop use rather than blatant attempts to deceive competition judges.

World Press Photo rules state: “The content of an image must not be altered. Only retouching that conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed.” In her statement on Lens, McNally clarified that the manipulation the jurors disqualified included “removing or adding information to the image, for example, like toning that rendered some parts so black that entire objects disappeared from the frame. The jury—which was flexible about toning, given industry standards — could not accept processing that blatantly added or removed elements of the picture.”

The organization is very aware that manipulation accusations can deal huge blows to the careers of photojournalists, Boering says, which is why they are keeping confidential the names of photographers who were disqualified—despite calls for more transparency. “If people get caught by agencies, then they are thrown out, and I know it’s difficult for these people to get back to work or find other agencies, so that’s a serious thing,” Boering explains. “If an agency makes that decision it’s up to them because that’s their rules. We organize a competition; we care a lot about photojournalism and visual journalism, but…I don’t think we should be the ones that decide on the careers of photographers, and whether they should be ruled out of competitions with others or whether they should lose their job with their agency.”

“We’re not going to put their names out unless we think it’s really severe what they’ve done,” Boering adds. “It might be that we think about talking to them about the way they go about it.”

Boering said WPP had today sent notices to the disqualified photographers presenting their evidence and explaining their decisions. He says the organizations has received one or two responses from photographers accepting the decision.

It’s more important to WPP that this controversy sends a message to photojournalists and the industry, sparks discussion and, hopefully, a resolution, Boering says. “Technology makes a lot of things possible, but it makes it possible to find things…. The technicians that do our research, they’ve showed me several examples of things that you can do and I think it’s amazing.”

Boering says he’s heard from people at agencies and news organizations, and others in the photo industry in the past few days. World Press Photo is planning “several debates” starting on the day of the awards presentation, that he hopes will help the “find common ground with the industry to get it right.”

Related: Mads Nissen Wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014 Prize
AP Cuts Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

February 13th, 2015

You Be The Judge: Did Jessie Ware’s Music Video Infringe Asger Carlsen Photo?

Yesterday photographer Asger Carlsen called out director Christopher Sweeney and musician Jessie Ware for plagiarism. Posting to his Instagram account and Facebook page, Carlsen showed a still from the newly released video Sweeney directed for Ware’s song “Champagne Kisses,” comparing it to an image Carlsen created in 2010. In the video, which mixes retro and surrealist esthetics, Ware appears briefly sporting a lower body made of plywood, laid out in the exact same position as Carlsen’s model in the 2010 photo.

Reached for comment, Carlsen told PDN that he “cannot comment on the Christopher Sweeney video” at this time.

We’re pretty surprised that anyone would have the chutzpah to mimic such a distinct visual concept without reaching out to or crediting its originator.

Whether or not Carlsen could win a legal case is a trickier question, and courts have sometimes surprised us in their rulings on these matters.

Related: Rihanna Settles Lawsuit With David LaChapelle

February 10th, 2015

Funding Your Long-Term Photo Project—Upcoming Award and Fellowship Deadlines

Two awards and a pair of reporting fellowships are currently seeking applications.

The International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University is seeking applications for reporting fellowships on the topics of health/development and religion.

IRP says that the fellowship awards will include “roundtrip air tickets to and from [fellows'] homes and destinations, but all other travel must be arranged and paid by the fellow. IRP will offer a stipend based, in part, upon the budgets that all applicants must submit.”

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the deadline on Monday, March 16. Applicants can be freelance or staffers. For more information visit the program website.

The 5,000 Euro (approx. $5656) Alfred Fried Photography Award is seeking photographs that answer the question, “What does peace look like?” All photojournalists may enter the Austria-based award competition free of charge. The entry deadline is May 17, 2015. Visit the Fried Award website for more information.

Last but not least, the New Orleans Photo Alliance is currently accepting applications for its annual Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography award of $5,000. The award is open to photographers based on the Gulf Coast of the United States—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Emma Raynes, Director of Programs at the Magnum Foundation, is the judge for this year’s award. Applications require a fee of $25, and are due March 30, 2015. For more info visit the NOPA website.

January 22nd, 2015

Fellowship Opportunity for Conservation Photographers

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) is currently accepting applications for its Associate Fellows program. The iLCP is a non-profit organization whose members create images and other content that help advocate for environmental conservation causes all over the world. The organization counts many respected conservation photographers among its ranks, including senior fellows James Balog, Paul Nicklen, Christina Mittermeier, Krista Schyler and Tim Laman.

Fellows work with the iLCP to promote the work of the organization and partner organizations involved in conservation, participate in expeditions organized by the iLCP and receive support for their work from the iLCP.

Associate fellows work with the organization for two years before they are considered for senior fellowship. The iLCP lists several expectations for associate fellows on its site. Applicants are expected to have completed and published two major conservation photography projects. They should also be willing to mentor Emerging League Photographers and participate in events and workshops, among other qualifications.

The application for associate fellowships is due Friday, February 27, 2015. The application process involves two rounds. Each round requires a fee of $125.

To learn more about fellowships and read more about the application process, visit the iLCP site.

Related: The International League of Conservation Photographers and the Wilderness Society Protect Idaho’s Clearwater Basin

January 22nd, 2015

Magnum Foundation Announces Emergency Fund Grants, Fellowships

Gaza, Palestine. 2014. Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed. It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants. (Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos)

Gaza, Palestine. 2014. Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai’iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed. It’s estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants. (Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos)

Today the Magnum Foundation announced the recipients of its 2015 Emergency Fund grants, which support the production of in-depth documentary photography projects “that can no longer be funded through the media alone.”

The 11 grantees were selected from more than 100 nominees from around the world. Their projects include investigations of Pakistan’s legal system; the trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy; Turkish television studios; income inequality in the United States; and failed foreign aid projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The grantees are:

Asim Rafiqui, Curran Hatleberg, Elena Perlino, Emine Gozde Sevim, Guy Martin, Massimo Berruti, Matt Black, Nii Obodai Provencal, Pete Muller, Peter DiCampo and Peter van Agtmael.

An international committee of 15 photo editors, curators and educators nominated photographers for Emergency Fund grants. In addition to monetary support that will allow the photographers to travel to complete their projects, the Magnum Foundation also offers mentorship and distribution support to grantees.

The Magnum Foundation also announced the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography, which supports projects focused on issues critical to China. Yuyang Liu and Souvid Datta are this year’s fellows.

Finally, the foundation announced seven recipients of the Human Rights Fellowship, which offers young photographers from the global south scholarships to train at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York. This year’s Human Rights Fellows are Muyi Xiao (China), Nour Kelze (Syria), Anastasia Vlasova (Ukraine), Xyza Bacani (Hong Kong), Basel Alyazouri (Palestine), Sipho Mpongo (South Africa), and Chery Dieu Nalio (Haiti). The Human Rights Fellows were chosen from 576 applicants.

Related: Matt Black and Ed Kashi Bring California’s Dried-Out Central Valley to The New Yorker
Magnum Foundation Awards 2014 Emergency Fund Grants
Photo Tastemaker: Magnum Foundation Program Director Emma Raynes

January 20th, 2015

Behind Cosmo UK’s Honor Killings Protest “Cover” Photograph

cosmopolitan-uk-honor-killings-cover

This mock-up of a Cosmopolitan UK cover features an image from a series of photographs created by artist Erin Mulvehill.

Last week a mock Cosmopolitan UK cover that sought to protest honor killings drew attention and praise online. Honor killing is a horrific practice in which family members kill one of their own, often a daughter, who is perceived to have brought shame on a family.

The Cosmo UK mock cover depicts what appears to be a woman suffocating. In images of the cover circulated by the magazine and Leo Burnett Change, the agency that designed the cover, the issue is sealed in plastic bags, completing the impression that the woman on the cover is being asphyxiated. The cover was inspired by the 2004 murder of 17-year-old British Pakistani teen Shafilea Ahmed; Ahmed’s parents suffocated her in front of her siblings for perceived offenses that included refusing an arranged marriage. Ahmed’s parents were later convicted of murder.

After several outlets reported that the design would appear on the February issue, Cosmopolitan UK clarified that the cover was just a mock-up, created as part of a campaign the magazine is working on with UK women’s rights organization Karma Nirvana. (The actual February cover featured Khloe Kardashian.)

The provenance of the photograph depicting the suffocating woman is also interesting. The black-and-white photograph used in the mock-up is part of “Underwater,” a fine-art series created by Brooklyn-based photographer Erin Mulvehill in 2009. The images in Mulvehill’s series depict women who appear to be floating underwater, many with their hands pressing out towards the viewer. (more…)

December 23rd, 2014

PDNPulse: Top Stories of 2014

As another fascinating year in the world of professional photography comes to a close, we look back on the stories that drew the most interest from PDNPulse readers this year.

From manipulated news photos, to photographers arrested for doing their jobs, to collaborative efforts between photographers and an interview with one of photography’s most influential star makers, these stories capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business today.

1: George Steinmetz Wonders: Was It Worth Getting Arrested for National Geographic Cover Story Photos

2: 2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers in Sochi is True

3: PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

4: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

5: AP Severs Ties With Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
5a: Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

6: How Much Do Editorial Clients Pay? “Wiki” Gives Names and Fees

7: If that Kim Kardashian Photo Looks Familiar…

8: Calumet Photographic to Liquidate, Closes U.S. Stores

9: Photographer Creates Free iPhone App for His Signature Style

10: Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright for Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

11: Suffolk County Pays $200K to Settle News Photographer’s Unlawful Arrest Claim

12: How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?

13: AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

14: Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

15: Photojournalist Camille Lapage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic