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September 17th, 2014

The 50,000 Euro Controversy Over Artistic Freedom and the Carmignac Gestion Prize

carmignac-pageNewsha Tavakolian, the Tehran-based photojournalist who won the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award, announced last week that she will return the 50,000 Euro prize, due to “irreconcilable differences over the presentation of my work.” Tavakolian claims Edouard Carmignac, head of the Carmignac Gestion investment bank which funds the Carmignac Foundation and the photojournalism prize, edited her work and changed its title “in ways that were simply not acceptable to me.” In a statement sent to PDN, a spokesperson for the Carmignac Foundation claims the organization has “postponed” planned exhibitions and the publication of Tavakolian’s work to protect the photographer and her family from threats from the Iranian government.

Created in 2009, the Carmignac Gestion photojournalism award “aims to support photojournalists who find themselves working on the front line of different situations.” Selected by a jury of photographers, curators and editors, the prize winner receives 50,000 Euros to complete a project, exhibitions in Paris and elsewhere, and the publication of a book. Previous winners of the Carmignac Gestion prize have included Kai Wiedenhoefer and Davide Monteleone. Tavakolian is the first woman awarded the prize.

Though Tavakolian was selected the 2014 winner in November of last year, her identity was kept confidential due to security concerns while she worked on her project in Iran, according to the Carmignac Foundation. She delivered images to the Foundation in July; her win was announced that month at the Recontres D’Arles photo festival.

On September 11, Tavakolian posted on her Facebook page a statement saying that she was returning the money because of disagreements with Edouard Carmignac.

“Unfortunately…from the moment I delivered the work, Mr. Carmignac insisted on personally editing my photographs as well as altering the accompanying texts to the photographs. Mr. Carmignac’s interference in the project culminated in choosing an entirely unacceptable title for my work that would undermine my project irredeemably.” Tavakolian says she titled the project, which depicts everyday life in Iran, “Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album,” but in announcing the prize, the Carmignac Foundation called it “The Lost Generation,” a title Tavakolian calls “overused and loaded” and “unnecessarily controversial.” She said in her Facebook statement that in her emails to Carmignac, “I tried to convince him that as the creator of this project, I am entitled to my artistic freedom. Whilst I absolutely welcome other points of view, I cannot accept that anyone other than myself should have the final say about my work. But at no point would he accept this as my right.”

Tavakolian told PDN on she had contacted the Foundation to arrange the transfer of funds to their account.

A spokesperson sent PDN a statement from the Carmignac Foundation that says Tavakolian had changed the project she had originally proposed to the jury. According to the foundation, Tavakolian “notified the Foundation of specific and significant risks posed to her own safety, and that of her family, and expressed her intention to tone down and shift the focus of her proposed ‘Burnt Generation’ project that had been selected by the Jury.

“Under these circumstances, the Foundation made the difficult decision to postpone the project rather than accept such a change, which it felt would have distorted the Award’s mission without necessarily guaranteeing the safety of its winner.”

Tavakolian told PDN via email, “The reaction from the Carmignac Foundation is a clear manipulation of the truth.” She considers the mention of safety issues “a threat” from Carmignac, she says.

“The issue at hand here is my right for artistic freedom and Mr. Carmignac’s misplaced ambition to edit, alter, and change my project, including the title to his own liking. I do not need Mr. Carmignac’s ‘protection’ as he prefers to call this drama. I have been working in Iran for 15 years and have faced many problems, but solved them myself and managed to tell the story. What [I] need from him is simple: my artistic freedom and the right to have the final say over my own project.”

Though one of Tavokolian’s images remains on the Carmignac Foundation website, exhibitions of her work have been canceled, the Foundation statement says.

Davide Monteleone, last year’s winner, served on the jury that selected Tavakolian for the 2014 prize. He says when he turned in the project on Chechnya he shot with the Carmignac Gestion prize, he worked only with artistic director Nathalie Gallon. “I had no interference from Mr. Carmignac.” Monteleone says his book and exhibition “are exactly the way I wanted them to be. I think for such a prize, this is the only way it should be.”

The Carmignac Foundation is continuing with plans to offer the prize in 2015, this time supporting works on the theme of “lawless areas in France.”

September 4th, 2014

Video Pick: Wildlife Advocate’s Story Wins Yale e360 Video Prize

Yale-360-home“Badru’s Story,” a video by the documentary photography/video team of Benjamin Drummond and  Sara Joy Steele about efforts to monitor the effects of climate change on biodiversity in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park, has won first place in a video contest held by Yale Environment 360, the online publication of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. The team will receive $2,000, and their video will be shown on e360.yale.edu for 30 days; the second- and third-place winners will be shown in the coming weeks.

The video follows researcher Badru Mugerwa as he leads a team cutting through the dense forest to set 60 camera traps that will record the movement of wildlife. After making into into the dense growth and painstakingly setting each camera trap, Mugerwa says, “You better have interesting things on this camera after 30 days.” He is part of the Tropical Ecological Assessment & Monitoring (TEAM) Network, a global network of field station which records similar data across the tropics. “Badru’s Story” includes some of the thousands of images the camera traps in Bwindi have recorded, including photos of elephants, gorilla families, chimpanzees (some of whom check out the cameras quite closely), anteaters, leopards, and numerous birds. A representative of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority interviewed in the video notes that Bwindi is one of the few forests in the world “where you find gorillas and chimpanzees feeding together.”

Drummond and Steele, whose work has often focused on the human effects of climate change, also show, in video and stills, the community living around the park

TEAM Network: Badru’s Story from Benjamin Drummond / Sara Steele on Vimeo.

The Yale e360 video contest was judged by editor Roger Cohn; Elizabeth Kolbert, an environmental writer for The New Yorker and e360, and documentary filmmaker Thomas Lennon. Yale e360 supports and publishes documentary work on environmental issues. (See PDN’s article on their support of Evan Abramson’s video about the conflict over water resources on the Kenya and  Ethiopia border.)

Related Articles:
Video Pick: One Family Business Copes with Climate Change

An Under-Reported War Over Water [A Project Supported by Yale e360)

September 3rd, 2014

Russian Photojournalist Missing in Eastern Ukraine Confirmed Dead

Andrei Stenin, 33, a photographer with the Russian state agency RIA Novosti, who had been reported missing in the eastern Ukraine August 5, has been found dead, his agency confirmed today. In a statement, Dmitry Kiselev, the head of RIA Novosti, said Stenin had been traveling in a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians fleeing the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.  “His car was hit by shots and it had been burnt on the road close to Donetsk,” a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels where Stenin had been reporting before he disappeared. An autopsy confirmed a body found in the car was Stenin’s.

After his disappearance, RIA Novosti published a report, based on an anonymous source, that Stenin was being held by the Ukrainian security service (SBU). Though SBU denied the allegation, RIA Novosti, Russian media organizations and international press freedom groups around the world had advocated for his release. Kisolev told press today, “It turns out he was not a prisoner, he has been dead a month.”

The Russian foreign ministry called on Ukraine’s government to conduct a “thorough and unbiased investigation into the murder of Andrei Stenin and severely punish those responsible.”

Related article
Photographer Reported Missing in Eastern Ukraine

 

August 28th, 2014

Want to Buy a Drink for the Photographer Who Delivered James Foley’s Last Letter?

www.davidbrabyn.com/buy-daniel-rye-a-beer

www.davidbrabyn.com/buy-daniel-rye-a-beer

After the murder of journalist James Foley by his captors in Syria, his parents released to the public their last communication from him. Because all of Foley’s letters were confiscated by his captors, he asked a fellow captive to commit to memory a letter for his family.

Photojournalist Daniel Rye Ottosen (known professionally as Daniel Rye) had been kidnapped in May 2013 by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and was held with Foley for 13 months. When he was released in June, he called Foley’s parents and dictated the letter from memory. Foleys thanked him “from the bottom of our hearts” on the Free James Foley Facebook page where they shared the letter.

When photojournalist David Brabyn, a friend of Foley’s, heard about Rye’s message, he recalls, “I thought, what a thing to do! I wish I could buy him a drink.” Brabyn figured out a way to do that, and he’s offering others a way to thank Rye, too.

Brabyn has set up the Buy Daniel Rye a Beer web page, with a Pay Pal account where people can chip in beer money. (In addition to being a photographer, Brabyn is also a website consultant at digitaltechparis, and has experience at charity fundraising:  He and Foley worked together organizing the Friends of Anton benefit photo auction, which raised over $135,000 for the children of photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed in Libya when Foley was captured and detained the first time, in 2011, along with two other journalists.)

Brabyn got in touch with a friend of Rye’s who will make sure someone picks up the photographer’s bar tabs while the funds last; friends who treat Rye will be reimbursed from the money collected through the website. Brabyn acknowledges that Rye may have need for more than beer, but says the Buy Daniel Rye a Beer effort is simply a way to say thanks. “This isn’t about turning his life around. It’s just a friendly gesture from people who think he did something great,” Brabyn says. “If he wants to order wine or anything other than beer, that’s fine.”

Given the number of people around the world who have been touched by the letter Rye delivered, there might be a lot of people thanking him. “I think what he did is an astonishing achievement: to be locked up in terrible conditions, in a war zone, for so long and yet manage to memorize this long text,” Brabyn notes. “On top of that feat of the mind, he delivered this moving letter that is obviously so hugely meaningful to Jim’s family.”

Related articles

Danish Photojournalist Released After 13 Months in Captivity

Print Sales, Web Site to Benefit Anton Hammerl’s Children

August 26th, 2014

Free Seminar Alert: David McLain on 4K Video Workflow

David_McLain2(Sponsored) Come see why 4K video is quickly becoming the new standard in video capture and learn about workflow options at this free seminar being conducted by National Geographic veteran photographer & Sony Artisan of Imagery David McLain.  At this seminar (one of three at a day-long event), you’ll experience how McLain used the Sony a7s full-frame interchangeable lens camera to cover the World Cup in Brazil and learn why professional photographers and videographers alike are moving to 4K video. August 28, 2014, 11:00 a.m. at the B&H SuperStore in New York City.

More information at: www.bhphotovideo.com/find/eventDetails.jsp/id/1879

For more on McLain’s filmmaking, see PDN’s “Frames Per Second: Documentary Film Traces the Roots of Play.”

August 13th, 2014

AP Photographer Injured in Gaza Explosion that Killed Videojournalist, Translator

The Associated Press (AP) reports that video journalist Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were killed this morning when an ordinance exploded in Gaza in the town of Beit Labiya. Hatem Moussa, an AP photographer was “badly injured” in the blast. AP spokesperson Paul Colford says, “Hatem is being treated for his injuries.”

The unexploded ordinance was believed to have been dropped during recent airstrikes by Israel in Gaza. Gaza police engineers were trying to deactivate the explosive when it blew up. Three police engineers were killed in the explosion, along with the journalists.

For more details, including information on the careers of Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, see AP’s story.

Related articles
Photographer Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Gaza

August 12th, 2014

Alejandro Cegarra Wins 2014 Ian Parry Scholarship

© Alejandro Cegarra

© Alejandro Cegarra

Photographer Alejandro Cegarra, 24, has been awarded the 2014 Ian Parry Scholarship for “The Other Side of the Tower,” his project on people living illegally in the Tower of David, an unfinished skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela.  Cegarra will receive 3,500 pounds (approximately $5,450 US) and equipment from Canon. He is also automatically named to the shortlist of photographers selected for Joop Swart Masterclass, conducted by World Press Photo.

The Ian Parry Scholarship, now in its twenty-fifth year, was named for the Sunday Times of London photographer who was killed at the age of 24 while covering the Romanian Revolution. The scholarship supports projects by full-time photography students and photographers under 24.

Aidan Sullivan, founder and director of the Ian Parry Scholarship, says Cegarra’s work on the Tower of David is “in the finest photographic tradition of the scholarship.” In addition to the winner, one “highly commended” photographer and two “commended” photographers were also announced. They will receive 500 pounds (approximately $780 US). Save the Children will offer one of the finalists an all-expense-paid assignment.

This year’s “highly commended” photographer is Rahul Talukder of Bangladesh. Mario Wezel of Germany is the “commended” photographer.

For the first time, the jurors for the Ian Parry Scholarship also gave a Judges Special Award: It was awarded to Hosam Katan of Syria. Rebecca McClelland, deputy director of the scholarship, noted that for the first time, judges received numerous portfolios from photographers in Egypt and Syria.

A exhibition celebrating 25 years of scholarship winners will be shown at this year’s Visa Pour L’Image Festival in Perpignan, France.
Information on the Ian Parry Scholarship can be found at www.ianparry.org

Related Articles

Farzana Hossen Wins 2013 Ian Parry Scholarship for Project on Violence Against Women

Adrian Fussell Wins 2012 Ian Parry Scholarship

August 12th, 2014

Photographer Reported Missing in Eastern Ukraine

© Rossiya Segodnya/images by Andrei Stenin

© Rossiya Segodnya/images by Andrei Stenin

Andrei Stenin, a photojournalist for the Russian state agency Rossiya Segodnya (also called RIA Novosti) has been missing since August 5, when he last reported to his agency while covering the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and military forces supporting the Ukraine government near the cities of Donetsk and Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine. According to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other news organizations Rossiya Segodnya has reported, citing an anonymous source, that  Stenin is being held by the Ukrainian security service (SBU). SBU denies the allegation.

Rossiya Segodnya has launched a publicity campaign to lobby for his release. Dmitry Kiselev, the head of the agency, told the press that Stenin’s work has been “purely humanitarian in nature.”

Stenin’s photos are being displayed at the Rossiya Segodnya headquarters in Moscow, and the agency has posted a gallery of photos he’s taken in Ukraine since January.

The images Stenin last filed with his agency showed armed combat between separatist militia and Ukrainian government forces, and the capture of Ukrainian soldiers in Shakhtyorsk, outside Donetsk.

August 8th, 2014

Shark Peak: When Anti-Cliché Photos Turn Out To Be Clichés

Tristan-McConnell-FBMogadishu is to sharks carried on shoulders as Havana is to vintage sedans: No photographer who goes to that location can resist photographing the same photogenic subjects.

Tristan McConnell (@t_mcconnell), a Nairobi-based foreign correspondent for GlobalPost, Monocle and the London Times, posted a comment on his Facebook page the other day that pointed out the difficulty, in today’s image-saturated world, of finding a photo subject that hasn’t already been widely seen. He posted the comment, along with examples he’s collected, in an album titled “Mogadishu Fish on the Head Photographic Meme.”

McConnell, who has worked with many photographers and–when tight budgets require it– also shoots photos for his own stories, suggests that perhaps all these similar shots were the result of photographers struggling to avoid a different cliché: The African-capital-as-disaster cliché.

McConnell writes: “The image has to say ‘decades of conflict/failed state’ but in an oblique way, so you head to seaside Hamar Weyne, the old, war-damaged colonial neighborhood.”

He continues, “And then you see it. The perfect shot: A fisherman strides towards you with the catch of the day, a fish so big it’s draped across his head and shoulders. Behind him is the wreckage of the city. It’s perfect!

“You press the shutter. Done. Trouble is every other photographer has done it, too.”

Among the dozen examples McConnell shows are Feisal Omar’s photo which won 1st prize in the 2011 World Press Photo competition’s Daily Life/singles category,

© Feisal Omar

© Feisal Omar

and Michelle Shephard’s 2011 photo published in the Toronto Star:

© Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

© Michelle Shephard/Toronto Star

He could also have included this photo by an AFP/Getty photographer, published last year in the Daily Mail .

© AFP/Getty Images

© AFP/Getty Images

Or Jan Grarup’s famous image, published as part of a story in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin (as well as in PDN.)

© Jan Grarup

© Jan Grarup

This put us in mind of a familiar dilemma: Is it better for  photographers to ignore other photographers’ work — to insure they’re never imitating anyone, and remain happily unaware that the what they’ve just photographed has been photographed before? Or, as many clients suggest, should they try to see as much work as they can, either to avoid duplicating what’s been done, or to know the standards they need to meet if they want to find a new view of a subject that others have already discovered?

July 23rd, 2014

Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to FAA’s Drone Cease-and-Desist Orders

A Federal appeals court in Washington, DC, has dismissed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by a search-and-rescue group in Texas that uses drones in its work, but both sides in the case are declaring victory.

Texas EquuSearch had tried to overturn an email from the FAA ordering the group to stop operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones, in its search-and-rescue operations, the AP reports.

The three-judge panel said it could not review the case because the warning notice the FAA sent to did not represent the agency’s final policy on drone use, “nor did it give rise to any legal consequences.” The FAA is expected to finalize its policy on piloting drones for non-recreational use next year. The policy could affect photographers who  use drones to carry cameras on assignment.

The court’s ruling fails to clarify what authority the FAA has currently to regulate the use of drones.  In March, a federal administrative court judge overturned a $10,000 fine the FAA had imposed on photographer Raphael Pirker for using a drone to shoot a video for the University of Virginia, because the FAA still has no regulations on the books regarding the use of drones.

Brendan Schulman, the lawyer for Texas EquuSearch, told the site Motherboard that the appeals court ruling last week  “achieves the desired result of clarifying that Texas EquuSearch is not legally required to halt these humanitarian operations.” Texas EquuSearch has resumed piloting drones, AP reports.

In a statement, the FAA said, “The court’s decision in favor of the FAA regarding the Texas EquuSearch matter has no bearing on the FAA’s authority to regulate” unmanned aircraft vehicles. The FAA also said it reviews the use of drones “that are not for hobby or recreation on a case-by-case basis.”

Related Article
Commercial Drones are Legal, Federal Court Says

http://pdnpulse.pdnonline.com/2014/03/commercial-drones-are-legal-federal-court-says.html