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January 20th, 2016

Nat Geo Seminar: Photographers Explain How they Reach New Audiences to Effect Change

One of the images of endangered species, curated by Louis Psihoyos, projected onto the Empire State Building. Courtesy Racing Extinction.

One of the images of endangered species, curated by Louis Psihoyos, projected onto the Empire State Building. Courtesy Racing Extinction.

In his talk during the National Geographic Seminar on January 14, Louis Psihoyos, the photographer, filmmaker and conservation advocate, urged photojournalists and nature photographers in the audience to reach beyond magazine readers and look for new, ambitious ways to get their message in front of a wider audience. Psihoyos’s film Racing Extinction has been shown in theaters, online and on the Discovery Network in more than 200 countries, and a light show he curated—featuring images of endangered species by several wildlife photographers—that has been projected onto the Empire State Building and the Vatican has been seen by billions in person and online, he said. By spreading a message through a variety of media, “you can continue the conversation,” he explained. Attitudes and behavior change, he said, when you persuade “10 to 15 percent” of the population: “To me, it’s about reaching a tipping point.”

Psihoyos echoed themes that were raised throughout the day-long National Geographic Seminar, about the need to find ways to reach new audiences as magazine readership shrinks. Speakers included emerging photographers who are building online audiences or are exploring new styles of documentary storytelling.

When he shot for National Geographic in the 1980s, Psihoyos said, “It had circulation of 11 million and we said four people saw each issues passed along.” National Geographic’s current rate base for 2016, according to its media kit, is based on a readership of 3.1 million.

He has long been an optimist about photography’s ability to stir action. The first newspaper that hired him required its photographers to shoot a weekly column that showcased an animal at the local shelter that would be euthanized if it was not adopted. “I loved doing pet of the week because all my cats and dogs got saved. I loved doing it because I could see the power of an image to save the life of another creature.”

(more…)

December 29th, 2015

In Memoriam: John Chervinsky, Physics Engineer and Photographer, 54

John Chervinsky, an engineer whose photographs exploring the nature of time were exhibited around the U.S., died December 21 at the age of 54. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, according to the Griffin Museum of Photography, which administers a scholarship in his name.

Chervinsky balanced his loves of art and science while pursuing two careers. He ran a particle accelerator at Harvard University for 18 years, and then went to work for Harvard’s Rowland Institute for Science. Long interested in photography, he primarily shot street photos until 2001. In that year, a series of tragedies inspired him to spend more time in a studio he set up in his attic, as he told Lenscratch in a 2011 article. In 2003, he enrolled in Photography Atelier, a program for emerging to advanced photographers then offered through Lesley University in Boston. He began fashioning images that explored and expanded the camera’s ability to freeze a moment time. His images have been exhibited at CordenPotts Gallery, Blue Sky Gallery, PhotoEye Project Gallery, the Griffin Museum of Photography and other exhibition spaces.

In a 2013 interview with photographer Barbara Davidson for Framework, the photo blog of the Los Angeles Times, Chervinsky explained the method he used to create the still-life images in his “Studio Physics” series.

“My process is as follows:
1) Compose and photograph a still life.
 2) Crop a subset of the image and send it to a painting factory in China.
3) Wait for an anonymous artist in China to complete an actual oil painting of the cropped section, and send it to me in the mail.
 4) Reinsert the painting into the original setup and re-photograph.”

By the time he re-photographed the set up, the elements of his still life—an arrangement of fruit or bundles of flowers—would have begun to rot and fade. In his series “An Experiment in Perspective,” he used an overhead projector to project shapes onto a wall that he would then trace with chalk. “If I stood at just the right spot with my camera, it appeared to be hovering in a different plane out from the surfaces of the walls,” he explained. He then combined his markings of circles, squares and cylinders with real, three-dimensional objects.

As he told Aline Smithson of Lenscratch, “Conceptually, the work deals with the divide between rational or scientific explanations of existence and man’s need to explain the world around him with various systems of belief.”

(This week, Lenscratch published reminiscences of Chervinsky by colleagues and friends, “John Chervinsky, Celebrating a Life.”)

Chervinsky’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Portland Museum of Art in Oregon, List Visual Art Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and other public and private collections.

The Griffin Museum administers the John Chervinsky Emerging Photographer Award, which each year provides a photographer tuition-free enrollment in Photography Atelier, an exhibition at the Griffin Museum, and a photo book selected from Chervinsky’s personal library.

© John Chervinsky

An Experiment in Perspective, John Chervinsky’s self-published book. © John Chervinsky

December 22nd, 2015

Nina Berman Wins 2016 Aftermath Grant For Project on War’s Toxic Legacy

Nina Berman has won the 2016 Aftermath Project Grant for “Acknowledgment of Danger,” a look at the “toxic legacy of war on the American landscape.” Berman, a documentary photographer, has published two books: Purple Hearts—Back from Iraq (2004), on wounded veterans; and Homeland (2008), a look at surveillance and paranoia in post 9/11 America. Sara Terry, photographer and founder of The Aftermath Project, announced the news on social media today.

The Aftermath Project, a nonprofit, supports the production of projects on “the lingering wounds of war” and communities recovering from conflict. Past winners of the Aftermath Project Grant include Stanley Greene, Andrew Lichtenstein and Justyna Mielnikiewicz. In August 2015, Terry announced the 2016 grant would be the last the organization would offer “for the time being.” In the coming year, the organization will “concentrate on our tenth anniversary and strategize our way forward.”

In addition to naming the 2016 grant winner, the judges also chose several finalists:

Juan Arredondo for his project, “Everybody Needs a Good Neighbor,” about the challenges faced by ex-combatants transitioning back to civilian life in Colombia, as the nation prepares for a historic peace agreement between the government and FARC in March, 2016.

Bharat Choudhary for his project, “The Silence of Others,” which examines the aftermath of the war on terror and its disastrous psychological impact on young Muslims living in the West.

Paolo Marchetti for his project “FEVER: The Awakening of European Fascism,” which documents the growing racial intolerance – exacerbated by the economic crisis and by political ideologues – expressed by many young people reacting against the massive flow of immigrants to Europe.

Brian McCarty for his project, “War Toys,” a conceptual art/photography project. With the help of expressive therapists, McCarty works with the children to make narrative photographs that recreate their experiences using locally found toys.

The judges for the 2016 grants were Terry; Denise Wolff, an editor with Aperture; photographer (and former Aftermath Project board member) Jeff Jacobson; photographer Maggie Steber; and Elizabeth Rappaport, a photographer and Aftermath Project board member.

Related Articles
Project on Ukraine Wins $20,000 2015 Aftermath Grant

Post 9/11 War Business Projects Wins $20K Aftermath Project Grant for 2014

How to Win Grants That Support Your Photo Projects (interview with Sara Terry)

December 3rd, 2015

Time Inc Responds to PDN Article on Resistance to Time Inc’s Contract

After we published our story “Photographers, Reps, Push Back on Time Inc Contract’s Rights Grab,”
Jill Davison, vice president, corporate communications at Time Inc., contacted PDN. She sent a statement on Time Inc’s behalf.

Here’s the statement:

“We have standardized our photography rights and rates across our brands. Our new contract is fair and equitable. Many photographers have already signed the new agreement.”

 

December 3rd, 2015

Photographers, Reps Push Back on Time Inc Contract’s Rights Grab (Update)

TimeInc.com and its "over 90 iconic brands."

TimeInc.com and its “over 90 iconic brands.”

Photo agents, trade groups and individual photographers are raising alarms over the new photography contract issued last month by Time Inc., as they push the publisher to negotiate better terms.

The new contract, as written, eliminates space rates, grants Time Inc. broad rights to reuse assignment photos in affiliate brands and books, and reduces fees for reuse in related publications, books and foreign editions.

“Our position to the photographers we represent and syndicate is: Do not sign it,” says Geoff Katz, CEO of Creative Photographers Inc. (CPi), an agency that syndicates over 50 celebrity photographers and represents five photographers. “We’ve advised them that we’re in discussion and hope to strike a balance with Time that is fairer to photographers.”

“I would not recommend to any photographer we work with to sign the Time contract as it is written,” says Bill Hannigan, co-founder of the agencies AUGUST, VAUGHAN HANNIGAN and OTTO. Those agencies represent roughly 90 photographers.

Another syndication agency told PDN it had informed its roughly 50 photographers that it has sent Time Inc. comments about the contract’s terms and conditions, signaling to the photographers to put off signing the contract.

Syndication agencies, which license images shot on assignment, are pushing for revisions because the contract, in its current form, would undercut their business. Specifically, the contract would authorize Time Inc. to license assignment images “to and by third parties, each and all throughout the world, in perpetuity, in any and all media.” According to Katz, that clause would cut into photographers’ revenue from stock and syndication licensing “because it reduces the ability to offer other clients exclusivity.” In addition, photographers would no longer have the right to license any image that appears on a Time Inc. magazine cover. Katz says agents hope to negotiate with Time Inc.: “That’s the ultimate goal, to find a solution.” So far, Time has not responded.

Individual photographers have additional objections. Under the new contract, photographers would receive a day rate “up to $650” or “up to $1000” for covers, but no space rate. In other words, photographers would be paid a flat rate without regard to how many images the assigning publication uses.

“While the ‘up to $650’ day rate proposed may be sufficient for a routine assignment that is used only once and sparingly in a smaller publication, it is not enough for a more significant story used extensively [ie, with many images] in a larger publication,” says photographer Brooks Kraft, a long-time contributor to TIME. “If TIME Magazine publishes double page spreads from an important story, the photographer should make more then $650.”

Letter from NPPA, ASMP to Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.

Letter from NPPA, ASMP to Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.

The contract also contains a work-for-hire agreement that would grant Time Inc. the copyright to all video shot on assignment and to works produced in Time studios. Photographer Brendan Hoffman, a member of the Prime Collective, says he and other members are discussing how to respond to the contract demands. “In particular, we’re concerned about the lack of reuse fees, limits on space rates, and the rights grab on cover photos and video projects. The modest bump in the day rate does not compensate for the other losses.”

The new contract terms take effect January 1, 2016. In a letter dated November 2, Norm Pearlstine, executive vice president and chief content officer of Time Inc., told photographers, “The new policy means that all Time Inc brands will seek specified rights from photographers to re-use, at pre-agreed rates, photography that has been commissioned by any Time Inc brand in the US, with any additional permissions cleared by Time Inc.” The contract covers Time Inc.’s 90 magazines and brands including TIME, PEOPLE, InStyle, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Real Simple and Food & Wine, and affiliated titles like TIME for Kids and TIME-branded books.

Photographer John Harrington analyzed the contract’s terms point by point in a blog post titled “Time’s Failed Attempt at Fairness and Equity.” About the new day rate, he noted that if the editorial day rate paid in 1980 had been adjusted to keep pace with inflation, it would now be over $1000.

On November 24, Mickey Osterreicher of National Press Photographers Association and Thomas Kennedy of American Society of Media Photographers sent an open letter to Pearlstine objecting to “draconian terms and conditions you impose on contractors.” On behalf of their organizations as well as American Photographic Artists, Professional Photographers of America and Digital Media Licensing Association, Osterreicher and Kennedy asked Pearlstine to “enter into meaningful discussion with the photographic community to revise and create a fair agreement.”

Update: After we published an earlier version of this story, we were contacted by Time Inc’s vice president, corporate communications, who sent us a statement. We have published it. See “Time Inc Responds to PDN Article on Resistance to Time Inc’s Contract.”

Photographers who have not returned a signed contract have continued to receive automated emails with the contract; one photographer has received it twice, another five times. But so far, many are ignoring it, or waiting to see if Time is wiling to negotiate fairer terms. “I believe that any photographer who would consider accepting these terms must have little understanding of this industry and will surely regret it later on in their career,” says photographer Henry Leutwyler. “Hopefully, photographers will stick together and not only think for themselves but for each other and most importantly for the budding photographers of tomorrow. If the contract does indeed go through, it might be a good time to consider ditching the party and going fishing.”

Related Articles
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PhotoPlus 2015: The State of Editorial Photography

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December 2nd, 2015

Fund Your Work: Manuel Ortiz Foundation Seeking Projects for $5,000 Documentary Grant

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film is accepting proposals for their $5,000 grants for a documentary photo project and a short documentary film. The deadline to enter is March 31, 2016.

© Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation/photo by Pablo Ernesto Piovano

© Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation/photo by Pablo Ernesto Piovano

The Foundation awards one $5,000 grant to a photo project concerning pressing social issues “such as health, poverty, oppression, war, famine, religious/political persecution and similar topics.” Photographers can apply for support for either new or continuing projects by submitting a 15-image portfolio, written proposal, CV and other supporting documents. The 12 shortlisted portfolios will be displayed during the Rencontres d’Arles festival in France in 2016. The winner must complete the proposed project within a year of receiving the grant.

The 2015 recipient of the Grant was Pablo Ernesto Piovano of Argentina, for his project on the human cost of the widespread use of herbicides in agriculture in Argentina.

The Foundation is also offering a new, $5,000 grant to support what it calls “Short-short Documentary Film.” Filmmakers can submit samples of their field work and proposals for producing films “highlighting human unrest, forgotten communities, over-exploited people and environments impacted by war, poverty, famine, disease, exploitation and global distress.”

A full list of guidelines for both grants are available on the website of the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation.

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Fund Your Work: $3K Documentary Photo Essay Prize from CDS Seeking Submissions

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November 25th, 2015

After Staged-Photo Debacle, World Press Changes Rules

The 2016 World Press Photo contest will be carried out with new rules, guidelines and procedures, organizers announced today in Amsterdam. The changes include a new code of ethics, backed by more specific rules against photo manipulation, as well as other changes.

The new code of ethics reflects the World Press Photo Foundation’s efforts at reform and transparency, undertaken in the wake of a photo manipulation scandal last year that led to the disqualification of 20 percent of the final round entries, and the revocation of a first-place prize in the Contemporary Issues category.

“We want the audience to have trust in the accuracy of the pictures that win awards and are shown in our exhibition, so, for the first time, the contest has a code of ethics that sets out what we expect from entrants,” World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering said in a prepared statement.

Entries for the 2016 World Press Photo competition are due by January 13, 2016, at noon Central European Time.

The new code of ethics calls on photographers entering the contest not to stage events, and to avoid being misled into photographing events staged by others; to make no “material” changes to the content of their images; to provide accurate caption information; to edit stories in a manner that is accurate and fair; and to be open and transparent about how they made the photos they enter in the World Press Photo contest.

In support of that code, the new rules define illegal manipulation as “staging or re-enacting events” and “adding or removing content from the image.”

For example, World Press Photo says it is not acceptable to remove physical marks on the body, small objects in the pictures, reflected light spots, shadows, or extraneous items on a picture’s border that could not be removed by cropping. It is also unacceptable to add elements by cloning  highlights, painting in object details, photo montage, or replicating material on the border of a picture to make a neat crop possible.

But “cropping that removes extraneous details is permitted” and “sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives can be removed,” the 2016 rules say. They also say that “processing by itself” does not constitution manipulation. Specifically, “adjustments of color of conversion to grayscale that do not alter content are permitted,” the new rules say.

(more…)

November 16th, 2015

The Do’s and Don’ts of Collaborating with NGOs

Jane Huber, creative director of Oxfam America, says she’s inundated with requests from photographers wanting to work for the non-governmental organization. The photographers she rehires understand its mission and values—which includes respecting the individuals and communities it serves. “When you work in the field with an NGO, for all distinct purposes, you are the NGO,” says Huber. “You’re representing us and you want to embrace our values: human first.”

Huber was a participant on two panels during a one-day workshop titled “Photography: Agent for Change,”  hosted by the Alexia Foundation at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City on November 8. It was designed for documentary photographers and filmmakers who go beyond raising awareness and move into advocacy. Many photographers seek work from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the hopes that their images will be used in awareness campaigns, fund-raising and advocacy; some seek the access to communities or areas where the NGOs work, and want help with production and translation.

Huber spoke with PDN following the event to offer practical advice for photographers taking the initial steps to work with NGOs and how to behave in the field once they’ve been hired.

First of all, “do your homework,” Huber says. “As a prospective photographer you want to understand the objectives of Oxfam and what I’m seeking.” Huber continues, “I get a lot of emails that say, ‘I’d love to work for Oxfam because I love to travel and I’m interested in other cultures and I’m a photographer…’ And I think you haven’t done your homework. Photographers interested in doing work for international NGOs are a dime a dozen.”

To distinguish yourself, show that you know the organization and its programs well, Huber says; she recommends referencing specific campaigns that the NGO is conducting. Continue the email along the lines of “I’m particularly interested in labor issues and am always available for domestic work.” says Huber.  “Everybody likes to feel their time is valuable,” says Huber, “so you could say, ‘Dear X, I’m going to be in your area on Tuesday and I would love to take you out for coffee. It could be as short at 30 minutes.’” She adds, “Anyone who has a good portfolio, I’ll always try to give them a shot.”

Second, Huber expects photographers to put the people Oxfam serves before pictures. “You’d be surprised by what some people do in the field,” she says. “If you’re going to be a photographer working with people living in communities that are suffering because of poverty or violence and it’s for an organization that has a rights-based approach to development, then you have to mirror those values.” The photographers she rehires consider how they interact with the population they’re photographing. For example, she says: “If someone is weeping, it might be a really beautiful shot, but you may have to lose the great shot for the greater human interaction.”

Reciprocity with subjects is crucial, she says. At times that means missing the best light of the day to meet a contact person, an elder or local dignitary. It could also mean sitting down for tea. “I had a photographer who Oxfam worked with some years ago who I don’t choose to work with anymore,” Huber recalls. “It was reported back to me that when the family invited him to sit down for a cup of tea, he chose to sit in the corner and look at his camera. He may have thought he was using his time effectively, but when the team said it was important he sit with the family, he said, ‘I’m beat.’”

Huber sums it up by saying, “You may not be able to drink the tea because the water isn’t boiled, but you damn well sit there and show respect, because that’s reciprocity.”

—Sarah Stacke

Related Articles

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November 13th, 2015

Daniel Mayrit Wins $10K First PhotoBook Award from Aperture, Paris Photo

© Riot Books

You Haven’t Seen Their Faces by Daniel Mayrit, © Riot Books

Daniel Mayrit has won the First PhotoBook Award and a $10,000 prize at the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. The award, which is given for an outstanding monograph, was announced today at a ceremony at the Paris Photo festival. Mayrit’s book, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces (published by Riot Books) features photos of “the most powerful people in London” that have been rendered in grainy black and white by the artist to imitate closed-circuit TV footage this is used by police during criminal investigations.

The prize for PhotoBook of the Year was awarded to Illustrated People by Thomas Mailaender (published by the Archive of Modern Conflict/RVB Books). Maileander laid negatives, pulled from the Archive, over the bodies of his models, then projected a UV lamp onto them: “Maileander then photographed each of his models before the sun made the image disappear,” according to the publisher’s description of the book.

A special Juror’s mention was awarded to Deadline by Will Steacey, a tabloid-sized, newsprint publication which chronicles the decline of The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.

Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence won Photography Catalogue of the Year; it was published in connection with an exhibition at Le Bal in Paris of photos and video used as crime evidence.

The winners and all the shortlisted photo books are currently on display in Paris. The jurors who selected this year’s winners were: Frish Brandt, president of Fraenkel Gallery; Christophe Boutin, cofounder of onestar press; Clément Chéroux, curator of photography at Centre Pompidou; Donatien Grau, author and editor; and Lorenzo Piani, curator of the Enea Righi Collection, Bologna.

The shortlist was selected by Yannick Bouillis, founder, Offprint Projects; Julien Frydman of the LUMA Foundation; Lesley A. Martin, creative director of Aperture; Mutsuko Ota, editor-in-chief, IMA and Christoph Wiesner, artistic director of Paris Photo.

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November 5th, 2015

B&H Photo Video Warehouse Workers Vote to Unionize

Warehouse employees of B&H Photo Video have voted to unionize under the umbrella of the United Steelworkers, radio station WNYC has reported.

The vote, held yesterday among workers in two B&H warehouses in Brooklyn, was 200 to 88, according to the union.

After the vote, B&H spokesperson Henry Posner said in a prepared statement, “B&H Photo has always stood behind our employees’ legal right to seek union representation, and today’s outcome and our commitment to engage in a respectful dialogue with our employees and their representatives still holds true.”

Workers at the warehouses—many of whom are Hispanic—had complained of unsafe working conditions and discrimination, according to press reports. For instance, The New York Times reported last month that union organizers claimed B&H warehouse employees had been forced to work in warehouses where emergency exits were blocked; were exposed to dusty air that allegedly caused rashes and nosebleeds; and were pressured by management to sign English-language forms releasing B&H from medical claims.

A B&H senior executive countered in that same Times article that “B&H provides terrific benefits, highly competitive wages, and a safe, friendly environment.”

Laundry Workers Center, a non-profit labor group, began its efforts last year to help B&H workers unionize. United Steelworkers contacted B&H management last month, asking to be recognized “as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative of the employees.”

That request set the union vote in motion. Shortly afterwards, hundreds of photographers, filmmakers, and other industry professionals began signing a petition in support of the B&H employees. (The petition was initiated by union organizers, including Laundry Workers Center.)

The union alleges that B&H “ran an aggressive anti-union campaign prior to the vote.”

In his statement asserting B&H’s commitment to work with the union, Posner also said that the company has “gone to great lengths to ensure the highest standards for living wages and benefits, workplace safety, and respect and dignity in the workplace.”

—David Walker