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December 9th, 2014

Obituary: LIFE Photographer Ralph Morse, 97

Photographer Ralph Morse, who covered war, sports, science, celebrities, theater, and other assignments during his long career as a staff photographer for LIFE and TIME magazines, died December 7 at his home in Florida. He was 97.

Morse’s death was reported yesterday by TIME magazine, which said on its website that “no photographer in the history of LIFE magazine had a more varied, thrilling and productive career.” Morse became LIFE’s youngest World War II correspondent when he joined the magazine in 1941 at the age of 24.

He covered the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and later on, the liberation of Paris in 1944 and the surrender of Germany at Reims in 1945. After the war, Morse covered a wide range of assignments for LIFE, beginning with Broadway and the London theater, and eventually sports, science and technology, and other subjects.

Besides the major events of World War II, Morse was witness to other historic moments of the 20th century. TIME describes his iconic shot of Jackie Robinson “one of the greatest baseball photographs ever made.” Morse also photographed Babe Ruth’s farewell at Yankee Stadium, Einstein’s funeral, the Ali-Liston fight, and other events.

According to TIME, Morse was the first civilian to fly on a Strategic Air Command B-47 Stratojet, a nuclear bomber developed during the Cold War. He was also the first to shoot color photographs of the caves of Lascaux. He also covered NASA’s Mercury space flight program.

He remained a staff photographer for LIFE magazine until it folded in 1972, then joined TIME magazine. He retired in 1988, and told John Leongard, author of LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, that he sold all his cameras and and stopped taking photographs to avoid “everybody and his brother” asking him to photograph their weddings.

December 8th, 2014

How Photographer Stephen Crowley Works Around White House Photo Ops

A little Washington drama: Bill Clinton keeps Barack Obama waiting at a White House photo op. ©Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

A little political drama: Bill Clinton keeps Barack Obama waiting at a White House photo op in September. ©Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

New York Times photographer Stephen Crowley, an astute, keen-eyed observer of Washington politics, explains in an interview appearing in this month’s edition of PDN how he built his career working around obstacles to access. “They have their stage,” he says of politicians and their handlers. “I’m content to walk behind the cavalcade and observe.”

His series of images (above) of a September 19 meeting between President Barack Obama and ever-popular former President Bill Clinton is a case in point. Clinton was invited to the White House to celebrate the anniversary of AmeriCorps, a volunteer program his administration launched in 1994. It was supposed to be a feel-good photo op for Obama, whose ratings are low. But the mutual dislike between Obama and Clinton is no secret, and it wasn’t far from Crowley’s mind. He picks up the story from there:

“[They were] walking back to the oval office, right along a rope line. I was on a high ladder, missing that picture. Obama was working the rope line, then he walked off, and thought Clinton was with him. But Clinton was slowly working the rope line, making the President of the United States wait for him. And Obama was standing off by himself. He puts on his jacket, walks [back toward the rope line], and he’s still waiting for Clinton. That’s a gem of a moment. I made a whole sequence [out of it].”

Crowley notes there’s an element of street photography in his approach. “I had a lot of experience in Florida”–at the Palm Beach Post, where he started his career–“doing street photography. You went out and looked for features. I came up here [to Washington] and translated that, and it’s been an effective way of telling the story, pulling away from the press conferences.”

For more about Crowley, his approach to covering politics, and his alternative take on the controversy over diminished access by photographers to the Oval Office, see our interview in this month’s PDN.

December 4th, 2014

PDN Video Pick: A Spotlight on Underage Victims of the Illegal Sex Trade

(click “Play All” option for a two-minute trailer for the web version; click “Theatrical Version” to launch a 2:45 introduction to that version.)

Seattle photographer Tim Matsui and MediaStorm have just released The Long Night, a documentary film about teenage victims of illegal sex trade in King County, Washington. Matsui has focused on stories about sexual violence and human trafficking for more than a decade, and his new film is part of his multi-pronged project called “Leaving the Life.”

“I see the film as a broad audience outreach tool; it builds awareness,” he says, with hopes that it also serves as a catalyst for community dialogue.  His ultimate goal, he says, is to facilitate “a shift in cultural and institutional norms.”

He explains, “Some of the solutions lie in harm reduction, criminal justice reform, and police training,” to treat underage prostitutes as victims rather than criminals. “Others [solutions] are more generational: Are we teaching our daughters to be strong and self confident? Are we showing our sons how to respect and value women?”

Support for The Long Night included a $25,000 Women’s Initiative Fund grant awarded to Matsui by the Alexia Foundation in 2012. The Alexia foundation also provided post-production funding to MediaStorm.

The film is available in two versions: a 70-minute “theatrical release,” and a web version that’s presented in a series of short chapters. “We felt that breaking it down into components makes it a little more usable” to viewers who often can’t or won’t sit through an hour-long video online, says MediaStorm principal Brian Storm.

Both versions are available free-of-charge through December 7. The theatrical release is available on Matsui’s website; the web version is at MediaStorm.  After December 7, MediaStorm will charge a fee for the theatrical version, which will be available only on MediaStorm’s Vimeo feed. The fee, to be determined, will help defray production costs, Storm says. The web version will continue to be available for free on MediaStorm’s website.

Related:
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Tim Matsui on the Women’s Initiative Grant (for PDN subscribers)

November 24th, 2014

UK Orphan Works Law Takes Effect: Similar US Law Is Increasingly Unlikely

A controversial “orphan works” law, making it legal under certain conditions to use photos and other creative works belonging to copyright owners who cannot be located, took effect took effect October 29 in the United Kingdom. Efforts to enact a similar law in the US continue to languish.

Orphan works laws reduce the legal risk for publishers, film makers, museums, libraries, universities, and private citizens who want to use copyrighted works, but cannot locate the copyright owners of those works.  The laws are intended to make the works available for public benefit, provided users conduct a “diligent search” for the owners before using the works. But photographers, artists, and their trade groups have resisted the laws, fearing they will end up protecting infringers who don’t search diligently for copyright owners. Some opponents fear that orphan works laws may even give infringers incentive to turn traceable works into orphan works by stripping away credits and other metadata.

But so far, the new UK law is causing little worry. “I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for photographers,” says David Hoffman of Editorial Photographers UK (EPUK).

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and other US photo trade groups that issued dire warnings two years ago that the UK law would bring about “a firestorm of international litigation” are mostly quiet now.  “I think the law they’ve come out with [in the UK] is pretty reasonable,” says Eugene Mopsik, the outgoing executive director of the ASMP. (more…)

November 17th, 2014

With $10,000 Grant, Photographer Orchestrates Panoramic of Mile-Long Street

Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC: Charlotte Ballet Building, November 1, 2015. ©Jeff Cravotta

One of 138 images taken along Tryon St. in Charlotte, NC for a 100-foot long panorama. ©Jeff Cravotta

Photographer Sean Busher was looking for a project to herald the return of The Light Factory—a non-profit gallery and photo education center in Charlotte, North Carolina–when he hit upon an audacious idea: Recruit dozens of volunteers to create two panoramic images of both sides of Charlotte’s historic main drag. With months of preparation and a $10,000 grant, Busher pulled it off November 1. A two-sided, 100-foot exhibition of both panoramas is now pending at the Mint Museum of Art, the city’s main art museum.

Established in 1972, The Light Factory is a gathering place for photographers that hosts exhibits and offers classes. It closed in 2013 because of financial problems, but a group of local volunteers launched a Kickstarter campaign and managed to re-open it this summer at a new location.

Busher, a Light Factory board member, wanted to commemorate the re-opening and bring some publicity to the gallery. His idea was to photograph a single, vibrant moment on a mile-long stretch of Tryon Street in Charlotte. He dubbed the project “Moment Mile, the Ultimate Panorama.”

“I loved the concept, but I figured it would never happen,” he says.

Photographers line up November 1 to photograph Tryon Street simultaneously on signal. ©Rodney Nichols

Photographers line up November 1 to photograph Tryon Street simultaneously on cue. ©Rodney Nichols

But the more he explored the idea, the more excited he got about making it work. He needed funding, so he called the Charlotte-based Knight Foundation, which supports innovative journalism, media and art projects. Knight Foundation program director Susan Patterson surprised Busher by saying she had already heard of his project and wanted to help.

Knight Foundation provided a $10,000 grant, which Busher will use for marketing, and to cover the cost of printing and mounting the panoramic images. He also used some of the money to cover the costs of parking and a pizza party for the volunteers who showed up to help with the shoot.

Based on some shoot tests, Busher determined that he needed approximately 150 volunteer photographers spaced 36 feet apart to get the best panoramic, a measurement that provided some overlap to guarantee one continuous picture. He put out a call for volunteers, requiring them each to bring their own DSLR with a 50 mm lens.

Prior to the shoot, Busher made 4×6 test shots from each designated position along the street, and asked the volunteers on the shoot day to use his test shots as guides for framing their images. He also instructed volunteers to shoot at 1/125 or faster to ensure sharp capture. He didn’t specify aperture or ISO, but advised everyone to give priority to depth of field, rather than low ISO.

Busher woke up to cold, rainy weather on November 1, the day of the shoot. “We thought we were going to have to cancel the whole thing,” he says. “But about two hours before the shoot, the sun came out and it was beautiful.”

Out of the 150 photographers who volunteered, 138 showed up. Busher had created a website with a countdown for the first picture, scheduled for 6:15 pm, which was just before sunset and around the time the street’s Saturday night bustle begins. The volunteers took their positions along a 15-block stretch of Tryon Street, and monitored the countdown to 6:15 on their smartphones. After the first picture, they all crossed the street to photograph the other side exactly five minutes later. Then they gathered at a pizza restaurant where Busher and his team downloaded everyone’s flash cards onto computers.

“When you get that many people together a lot can go wrong—camera batteries, compact flash drives. It kind of had me freaked out,” Busher says.

He used Photoshop to combine the individual images into a panoramic. Because Photoshop only allows about a 500,000 pixel-wide image, he had to break the document into two different parts. Originally, he planned to stitch the pictures together as one seamless image, but as he was laying it out, he decided to juxtapose the images without stitching them so viewers get a sense of each individual frame.

“To get 138 photographers together at the same time to do something unified like this shows real dedication and support,” Busher says. “This couldn’t have gone better. I’m happy and relieved and thrilled.”

No date has been set for an exhibition at the Mint Museum, but Busher hopes to show the panoramas there this fall. He’s also looking for a corporate buyer for the panoramas. If he succeeds, he says, the proceeds will go to support The Light Factory.

–by Sam Boykin

November 13th, 2014

Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

Idaho cowboy coverPhotographer David Stoecklein, who built a small publishing empire on his photographs of cowboys, horses, and western lifestyle and landscapes, died November 10 at the age of 65, according to a report in the Idaho Mountain Express. The newspaper gave no details about the cause of death.

Based in Ketchum, Idaho, Stoecklein began his career as an outdoor lifestyle photographer shooting advertising assignments for clients including Coca Cola, L.L. Bean, Reebok, Timberland and others. According to his website, his passion for the ranching heritage of the American West led him to focus on that subject, which led to assignments from Stetson-Roper USA, Wrangler, Agri Beef, Eddie Bauer, Chevrolet, Ford, Marlboro, and numerous others. He also contributed to numerous magazines including Western Horseman, Farm and Ranch Magazine, Cowboys and Indians, and Working Ranch magazine.

In addition to his assignment work, Stoecklein published at least 28 books, among them titles such as The Cowboy Boot, Dude Ranches of the American West, The Cowboy Horse, and The Idaho Cowboy. Along with the many books, he sold cards, calendars, posters, and prints through his website.  Stoecklein also ran frequent photo workshops at his ranch in Mackay, Idaho

He is survived by his wife, Mary, and three sons.

October 27th, 2014

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Develop Your Brand Identity

Marcus Smith, Part 2: How to Develop Your Brand Identity from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

In a previous PDN Video, advertising photographer Marcus Smith explained how he used personal work to land his dream clients. After winning his first few commercial assignments, though, Smith decided he needed a stronger brand identity to maintain momentum. In this video, he explains how he figured out the right brand message for his business, communicated it to a designer, and got a professional-looking brand identity on a tight budget.

Smith will speak at Photo Plus Expo on a panel called “PDN’s 30: Strategies for Young Working Photographers” on Saturday, November 1 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Others speaking on the panel include Dina Litovsky, Greer Muldowney, Keren Sachs, and Tony Gale. For complete details about Photo Plus Expo seminars and events, see the Photo Plus Expo website.

Related:
PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want

October 6th, 2014

Nature Photographer Quits Business, Blaming Copyright Piracy

Photographers have complained plenty about online copyright infringement, but so far, the problem hasn’t driven many to quit the profession, or discontinue posting images online.

Nature photographer Alex Wild says he’s had enough, though. In an essay titled “Bugging out: How rampant online piracy squashed one insect photographer,” Wild says infringement of his work has contributed to his decision to quit photography for a position “less prone to the frustrations of a floundering copyright system.”

Wild asserts in the essay, recently published on arstechnica.com, that “For practical purposes, the Internet has become a copyright-free zone.”

He goes on to provide a long list of unauthorized commercial uses of his work, and describe the futility of his efforts to stop it.  “I send, on average, five takedown notices to Web hosts every day, devoting ten hours per week to infringements. Particularly egregious commercial infringers get invoices,” he says. “Copyright infringement drains my productivity to the point where I create hundreds fewer images each year.” Just ignoring the infringements is a bad option, and so is suing them, for several reasons he explains.  For one, his business competes with “uncredited copies of my own work.” As he explains, “Who wants to pay for an image that is already everywhere?”

Wild concludes by calling for copyright reform that provides “reassurances that the mere act of participating online won’t force [artists] to choose between bankruptcy and chasing infringers through the rabbit hole of ineffective copyright enforcement.” Which is just the kind of reform that photographers’ trade groups have been chasing for years through the rabbit hole of Washington politics.

October 1st, 2014

To Attract Business, Food Photography Duo Builds Dream Kitchen for Food Stylists

BurkleHagen's dual kitchen. ©Andrew Burkle and David Hagen

BurkleHagen’s dual kitchen. ©Andrew Burkle and David Hagen

When food photographers Andrew Burkle and David Hagen formed a partnership last year and began planning their 6,000 square-foot studio space in Cleveland, they asked food stylists for ideas and input about how to build the kitchens. Burkle, whom we recently interviewed about his transition from assistant to professional photographer, explained that when food clients are planning ad campaigns, they often hire food stylists first, and then ask those stylists for recommendations for photographers. “We want to make the stylists happy,” Burkle says. “If they’re happy, they can be the best sales force in the world.”

We followed up to ask Burkle: What did stylists request? And what did you incorporate in your studio design based on their input? Here’s an edited version of Burkle’s email response:

We only shoot food, so we wanted our kitchen to be the focal point [of our studio]. We wanted to present it like a lit theater stage as soon as you enter the studio. We wanted it to look great, work great, and be comfortable and efficient for all stylists. While planning the kitchen we interviewed [about a dozen stylists] on the phone or in person. We just asked, “What is your ideal work kitchen?” and “What works well, and what makes your job difficult?”

[They requested] a lot of counter space, a bright, very well lit work area, large sinks (multiple if possible), enough floor space to be able to move around with multiple people in the kitchen, two refrigerators and two freezers, and lots of pantry and cabinet space. Other small things were more electrical outlets to plug in small appliances, close proximity to the sets, and a separate prep area hidden from clients.

[The work space] is basically two kitchens. Each side has its own 4’ x 10’ island, double oven, 5 burner cooktop and hood, dishwasher, large farm sink, and pull down (retractable) extension outlets from the ceiling. The [tops of the] two kitchen islands  are made of restored bowling lane [flooring]. Both islands are on casters [so the space arrangement is flexible]. We designed the islands for stylists’ legs to fit underneath, while optimizing storage space for pots, pans and utensils in custom-made cabinets and drawers. I guess many stylist work at studios where the work stations don’t  have leg room [so] they have to side-saddle the table and it creates an awkward work position.

The floor of the kitchen is different from the polished concrete of the rest of the studio. We put a high density foam down and then covered it with wood paneling to give it a ballet floor feel. Food stylists are on their feet the whole day, so the floor is easy on their feet and back.

Behind the back wall of the kitchen, hidden from the view of clients, is a pantry, and a prep room. The hidden pantry is a precaution in case we are shooting for one client, but we are also stocked with a competitor’s product (it happens). The “contraband” will be out of sight. The prep area has a desk, and stylists often use it as an office.  If they need to take a call or send an email, they can [do so] and not have to be seen by clients.

The kitchen has been a big hit. After every shoot we try to ask what is working well, and if there is anything that we can fix to make it better.  We ask if there are any appliances, dishware, or utensils that they wished they could have had. We want to keep improving.

So far, food stylist really like working here.  We really want to do everything we can to keep it that way.

Related:
From Assistant to Pro: Andrew Burkle, Food Photographer
Studio Tour: Jody Dole’s Dream Studio (for PDN subscribers)

October 1st, 2014

Is the Fair Use Defense Just for Rich and Famous Appropriation Artists?

Richard Prince earned millions appropriating and manipulating Patrick Cariou's "Yes, Rasta" images. Prince's fame as an artist arguably enabled him to get away with it.

Richard Prince earned millions appropriating and manipulating Patrick Cariou’s “Yes, Rasta” images. His fame as an artist arguably enabled him to get away with it on fair use grounds.

Fair Use may be turning into a legal refuge primarily for “rich and fabulous” artists, according to a recent University of Chicago Law Review article by two Stanford scholars. They reached that conclusion by analyzing Patrick Cariou v. Richard Prince and other copyright disputes between artists over the past decade.

“This shift in fair use has predominantly protected big name defendants who appropriate from small name artists,” Andrew Gilden, one of the authors, told American Public Media’s Marketplace program on Monday.

The Marketplace report, by Sabri Ben-Achour, went on to say that in visual art copyright cases over the past decade, the wealthier artist has usually prevailed. “They’ve won defending against claims they copied someone else’s work, and they’ve won pursuing others for copying their work,” Ben-Achour reported.

Gilden and his co-author, Timothy Greene, argue in their law review article that wealthy artists prevail in part because of the high cost of defending an infringement claim on fair use grounds–something many work-a-day artists can’t afford. But wealthy artists also prevail, Gilden and Greene argue, because there is a cultural presumption that works are “transformative” when they appropriate material from unknown artists, then sell for high prices to an exclusive market. (Whether a disputed work “transforms” the original work is a primary test for a finding of fair use.)

Cariou v. Prince, for instance, was a dispute over a series of paintings and collages by Prince that appropriated images from Cariou’s book Yes, Rasta without permission. Most of Prince’s works eventually sold, fetching a total of  $10.4 million. Prince successfully fended off Cariou’s copyright infringement claim on fair use grounds, testifying in the process that Cariou’s work was just raw material for his own work.

But the argument for transformation doesn’t work in the other direction, i.e., when unknown artists appropriate from better-known artists and then argue that they’ve created a transformative work. That’s because works by famous artists just don’t seem like raw material to juries, judges or average citizens.

The illustrative case Gilden and Greene analyze in their article is Salinger v. Colting. J. D. Salinger sued Fredrik Colting, a little-known author, over Colting’s novel called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. Colting borrowed story lines and characters from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye,  pretty much doing what Prince did when he appropriated Cariou’s work, Gilden and Greene suggest. But unlike Prince, Colting lost his case. (Both cases were finally adjudicated in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is in New York.)

As Gilden and Greene put it in their article, “Cariou makes fair use fairer for some, but there’s a real risk its virtues won’t be available to all.”

Related:
Richard Prince Did Not Infringe Patrick Cariou’s Photos, Appeals Court Says
S
upreme Court Declines to Hear Patrick Cariou’s Copyright Claim Against Richard Prince
Richard Prince Settles with Photographer Patrick Cariou