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January 28th, 2014

Photography Products We Wish Someone Would Invent

For our January issue, which was dedicated to innovation, we asked some photographers: What innovation do you wish someone would invent? See their responses below and add your wishes in the comments.

Udi Tirosh, editor of DIYPhotography.net
Tirosh says cameras are evolving in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. “They are no longer confined to a rectangle form-factor and they are no longer limited to delivering a single static image. We are seeing 3-D cameras, high-def cameras, wearable cameras, action cameras and more. I think that cameras will end up in all shapes and forms delivering images and data that we have not thought about yet. Perhaps mind controlled, perhaps delivering imagery and sensory data directly into our brains.”

David Frank, video journalist at The New York Times
As a video shooter, Frank says he likes using DSLRs to capture video but says he wishes he didn’t require “add ons.”

“Probably my greatest desire is to have a [Canon] 5D-type camera that I can focus as easily in video mode as it does in still mode—and to be able to do this easily while recording—through the lens, not via a display screen even with an magnifying eyepiece attached.” He says his second wish would be a device that allows “recording audio easier and cleaner without having to add on so much stuff. Third would likely be a really good shotgun mic to go straight into the camera (not through juicedLink or Beachtek).” Finally, he says, he’d like the headphone output levels higher on his Canon EOS 5D Mark III increased. “Even putting these levels all the way up, it’s still too low to hear very well—especially for aging ears.”

Bil Zelman, advertising photographer
“If Santa could make me any toy imaginable this year it would be an L-series Canon 65mm 1.2 lens (or a Nikon one if I swung that way).

“I use a 50mm for most of my portraits. Many people choose an 85mm as it’s a more ‘beautiful’ perspective with smaller nose, etc. It’s a 70 percent jump in focal length between the two most popular portrait lenses and I’d shell out a few grand on a fast, in-between-length 65mm in a heartbeat. (There is a 60mm f/2.8 macro but f/2.8 is too slow for most people).”

He is also craving a device to relieve what he calls “photographers’ tennis elbow.” He says, “A ton of shooters have it. I lift a seven-to-ten-pound camera sideways to my eye 300,000 times a year and my schedule makes a three-month ‘time off healing window’ nearly impossible.” He’s so serious about the need for such a device, in fact, that he’s begun work on inventing one.

Isa Leshko, fine-art photographer
Leshko wishes someone would invent a website that helps pair corporate and nonprofit institutions seeking to fund artists with artists seeking funding. “Most institutions don’t give money to individuals and instead fund only institutions, which would be one challenge in implementing such a service,” she says. “But, perhaps the organization running the service could also provide fiscal sponsorship for participating artists.” She adds, “There is only a relatively small pool of grants that are awarded to fine-art photographers. I personally would love help finding additional sources of funding that do not involve crowd sourcing. I know I am not alone in this wish.”

Dom Romney, photographer and motor sports specialist
“It would be great to see better heat haze technology to help cut down on soft shots due to heat.” (Editor’s note: Heat haze is image distortion caused by air temperature differentials, which bend light. Common examples are distortions caused by the exhaust heat of a jet or racecar engine, or heated air rising from a hot surface such as pavement. The distortion is especially pronounced in images shot with long lenses.)

Nigel Harniman, advertising and automotive photographer
As a car photographer, Harniman often has to incorporate his images with CGI (computer-generated imagery). When we asked him what innovation he wished to see, he said he’d like a means to work with less CGI.

Related Article:

5 Tech Trends That Are Changing the Photo Industry Today

December 18th, 2013

World Press Photo, Alexia Foundation: Still Time to Enter

As 2013 comes to an end, a number of prestigious photo grants, competitions and contests are still accepting entries for their 2014 awards. If you’re looking for something to keep you busy during the holiday break, try submitting your work for one of the awards or grants listed below.

Leica Oskar Barnack Award
In honor of Leica’s centennial in 2014, the camera company is doubling the value of the Oskar Barnack Award’s cash prizes to 10,000 euros for the winner of the professional photographer category and 5,000 euros for the winner of the emerging photographer category. The only requirement for photographers is that they must submit a series that includes images made in 2013. The award, which is named after the inventor of the 35mm Leica camera, recognizes “professional photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form in a sequence of a minimum of 10 [but] up to a maximum of 12 images.”

This year Leica has added a new category to the competition, the Public Award, and the winner is determined based on the number of votes received on www.i-shot-it.com. When photographers submit their work in consideration for the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, they can also opt-in to participate in the Public Award at no additional fee. The cash prize is 2,500 euros.

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2014; no submission fee. More information can be found at www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com.

Alexia Foundation Grants
Every year the Alexia Foundation recognizes a professional and student photographer whose work helps “promote world peace and cultural understanding.” The 2014 Professional Grant winner will receive $20,000—an increase from last year’s prize of $15,000—while the Student Grant winner will win $1,000, a semester at Syracuse University in London and more. Additionally, the Alexia Foundation established a new student grant this year in honor of Robert E. Gilka, the former director of photography for National Geographic who passed away in June 2013. The Gilka Grant, which is a $1,500 scholarship to attend The Kalish workshop, will be awarded to a “project proposal that also includes a multimedia component.”

The deadline for professional submissions is 2 PM on January 13, 2014; $50 submission fee. The deadline for student submissions is 2 PM on January 27, 2013; no submission fee. More information can be found at www.alexiafoundation.org.

World Press Photo and Multimedia Contest
The 57th annual World Press Photo is currently accepting submissions in a variety of categories including General News, Contemporary Issues, Sports and Nature. Additionally, the 4th annual World Press Multimedia Contest is accepting submissions in the Short Feature, Long Feature and Interactive Documentary categories. Both competitions honor outstanding work in the field of photojournalism. The winner of the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year award will win a cash prize of 10,000 euros, while the first-prize winners in all of the photo and multimedia categories will receive a cash prize of 1,500 euros.

The deadline to request a username and password for the submission website is 11:59 PM on January 9, 2014, while the deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM on January 15, 2014; no submission fee. More information can be found at www.worldpressphoto.org/enter.

PDNEdu Student Photo Contest
PDNEdu, The Photo Group publication for photography students, is seeking entries for its annual Student Photo Contest. College students who are currently enrolled in classes can submit a single image or a series of work in a number of different categories including Fashion/Portraiture, Documentary/Photojournalism, Still Life and Multimedia/Video. High-school students can also submit any type of photographic work in the Pre-College category. Grand-prize winners in each category will receive a Nikon camera, B&H gift card, portfolio review and more. Plus, they will be featured in the Spring 2014 issue of PDNEdu.

The deadline for submissions is December 21, 2013; $12 submission fee. More information can be found at http://contest.pdnedu.com/index.shtml.

Related Articles:

Jurying the World Press Multimedia Contest
Abir Abdullah, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz Win Alexia Foundation Grants
Successful Grant Applications: Tips From Grant Judge Toren Beasley
Paul Hansen Wins 2012 World Press Photo of the Year

October 29th, 2013

PPE 2103: Inside the Mind of a Photo Editor

Have you ever wondered what a photo editor actually does? At the 2013 PhotoPlus Expo panel “Photo Editing: A to Z” attendees got an inside look courtesy of two speakers: Elizabeth Krist of National Geographic and Bronwen Latimer of The Washington Post.

The panel was broken up into short-form and long-form journalism topics, as the two have widely different lead times. Latimer, the deputy director of photography at The Washington Post, noted that the lead-time for an article in the newspaper is anywhere from two to eight hours. She added that the lead-time is even shorter on the Web. Krist said National Geographic has a minimum lead-time of six months, and that they are already working on stories for 2015.

Latimer said she’s constantly looking at photo sources, including blogs, websites and galleries, for work that provides a fresh perspective on a subject. Her presentation included examples of photos from promos, e-mails, and websites that she has hung on to because she either likes the image or may have an article in the future on a topic that the image illustrates. Latimer gave the following advice to photographers interested in catching the eye of newspaper photo editors: always keep your website up to date so editors can see what you’re working on; show the work you want to be shooting; and pitch ideas to the digital extensions of newspapers because they are always looking for new content to post on their blogs and websites.

To discuss long-form journalism, Krist, the senior photo editor at National Geographic, showed David Guttenfelder’s work that was featured in the October issue for an article about North Korea. She shared the edit of images that she pitched to Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns and noted that she likes to have a rhythm to a layout so she often organizes work by different themes, in this case by categories like city life, the countryside, propaganda, etc. (These categories helped to avoid repetition in the layout so there was enough variety to warrant the 20 pages, including a gatefold, that National Geographic dedicated to the story.) Krist also briefly spoke about the exhibition “Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment,” which she curated.

Both Latimer and Krist mentioned that they appreciate photographers who explore a topic in depth. Krist added that she likes to see a whole body of work when photographers show her their portfolios.

When asked what they look for when choosing a layout’s opening image, Krist said she likes an image to be unexpected and draw the viewer in. Latimer noted the photo should grab a reader’s attention, and be the photographic equivalent of a gut punch. This advice seems as applicable to portfolio and presentations as it is for publications.

October 25th, 2013

PPE 2013: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Social Media

The theme of Thursday’s PhotoPlus Expo panel “Practicing Safe Social Media” seemed to be that social media is a necessary evil in today’s photography industry so photographers need to be smart about how they use it. The ASMP-sponsored panel had a variety of speakers who each brought a unique viewpoint to the discussion. Covering the legal ramifications was attorney Ross Buntrock; giving the media’s perspective was AOL/Huffington Post Photography Director Anna Dickson; representing the photo industry was photographer Richard Kelly; EyeEm CEO Florian Meissner provided a social-media company’s viewpoint.

Buntrock and moderator Peter Krogh broke down the terms of service agreements for four popular social-media sites, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and the news was pretty bleak. All four TOS agreements are essentially broad licenses that allow the companies to provide the images and data from their sites to third parties. This doesn’t mean that they own the copyright to any work you post on their networks. The panelists illustrated that point by briefly discussing the case of Daniel Morel, the photojournalist who successfully sued AFP, the Washington Post and Getty for using images from the Haiti earthquake that he posted on Twitter without his permission. However, it does mean that these platforms can let advertisers use your image in sponsored posts without your permission and without compensation. (Buntrock noted that adding a copyright symbol to your image before posting it to these social networks doesn’t impact the TOS at all.)

It would be easy to just say, “Forget, I’m not going to use social media.” Except Dickson made an interesting point that the reason she’s on Instagram is because that is where everyone else is—both photographers and photo editors like herself. Whereas five years ago she would’ve followed photographers on Flickr, now it’s Instagram. She also said the “look” of Instagram photos is popular now, so many websites, including AOL/Huffington Post, use the site to find images for articles and slide shows.

So herein lies the rub: You want your work to be followed and found by potential clients, but you don’t want to give it away for free. Meissner’s company, EyeEm, is trying to eradicate this issue by providing the same social features as Instagram but including a notification system that alerts photographers when a third party wants to use their image, and offers compensation for that use. Other sites and services were mentioned as also having some sort of permission or compensation model, including Stipple, Scoopshot, SmugMug and PhotoShelter.

However, until one of these sites has the same massive user base as Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, they don’t solve the immediate problem of how to get exposure while also protecting your work on social media. Kelly’s strategy for dealing with this issue is simple: Know what your message is on social media before you start posting on these sites. For example, he uses his accounts to keep followers up to date on what he’s working on, advocacy issues for photographers and his teaching gigs. That’s it. He doesn’t use the tools to post new work or market himself. And Dickson, to a certain extent, supported Kelly’s idea by noting that she loves it when photographers post behind-the-scenes images so she can see what they are up to as well as get a peek at their personality.

At its core, this is what social media was originally intended for—sharing who you are and what you are up to. Though you can use these tools to market your work, it would be wise to think of how you can do that without actually posting the finished image since it can easily spread around the Web without your attribution and without you ever seeing a penny of compensation.

Related Articles
In TwitPic Copyright Claim, Daniel Morel Seeks $13.2 Million from AFP, Getty

AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules

September 27th, 2013

Russian Photographer Detained After Greenpeace Ship Boarded

Denis Sinyakov, a freelance photographer based in Moscow and represented by Redux Pictures, was among the 30 people detained by Russian authorities after they seized the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. According to The New York Times, Russia’s Federal Security Service boarded the ship on Thursday, September 19, after two activists climbed an oil rig as part of a protest near the Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea. The Arctic Sunrise was then towed to the Russian port city of Murmansk.

Greenpeace released a statement earlier today condemning the ruling of Russian courts to remand 22 of the detained people, including Sinyakov, for up to two months “pending an investigation into piracy charges.” The remaining eight people will be held for three days while they wait for a new hearing. In the same statement, Greenpeace called the piracy charges “unjustified,” and noted the protest was peaceful, in international waters and meant to raise awareness of the oil industry’s environmental exploitation of the Arctic. They have dubbed the detained activists the “Arctic 30.”

Reporters Without Borders noted that a judge ruled on Thursday to detain Sinyakov for two months because he travels abroad frequently and therefore “might try to elude authorities.”

Greenpeace has been posting frequent updates on the situation on its website, greenpeace.org, and many American and international news organizations are reporting on the story.

September 9th, 2013

Inez and Vinoodh Launch Perfume Based on a Photo

Fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin collaborated with the Swedish fragrance company Byredo on a perfume inspired by one of their own photos. In an interview on the Barneys New York blog The Window, van Lamsweerde said their fragrance, called 1996, is based on their photo Kirsten 1996. “Ben Gorham of Byredo created the perfect interpretation of the dualistic tendencies in this photograph,” she added.

The fragrance launched on Saturday, September 7, and is available on the Byredo and Barneys New York websites for $175. The packaging includes a copy of the Kirsten 1996 photo that inspired the scent, which is described as having floral notes ranging from juniper berries and black pepper to violets, vanilla and patchouli.

Related Article:

The Best of Both: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

August 12th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: The Art of Portrait Photography

“The Art of Portrait Photography” is the latest episode for the PBS online video series Off Book, which focuses on people who contribute to different artistic mediums as well as Internet culture. In the eight-minute episode, four photographers talk about different aspects of shooting portrait photography: Matt Hoyle discusses The History of Portraiture; Bex Finch discusses Personal Storytelling; Jamie Diamond discusses Challenging the Language of Portraits; and Ethan Levitas discusses the Relationship of Photographer and Subject.

June 24th, 2013

Aaron Siskind Foundation Announces 6 Winners of 2013 Grants

The Aaron Siskind Foundation has announced the winners of its 2013 Individual Photographer’s Fellowship (IPF) grants. The six recipients are documentary photographer Michelle Frankfurter of Takoma Park, Maryland; portrait photographer Wayne Lawrence of Brooklyn, New York; conceptual photographer Joshua Lutz of Katonah, New York; documentary photographer Justin Maxon of Eureka, California; fine-art photographer Jenny Riffle of Seattle; and fine-art photographer Sasha Rudensky of New Haven, Connecticut. The LightBox blog, which posted an interview with Foundation President Charles Traub today, noted that each photographer won an $8,000 prize.

The judges for this year’s competition were TIME Senior Photo Editor Natalie Matutschovsky, photographer Andrew Moore and curator Tim Wride.

The IPF program was started in 1991, the same year that the Foundation was created, in keeping with photographer Aaron Siskind’s request that upon his death his estate be used to support and inspire contemporary photography. The grants are open to photographers of all levels who reside in the U.S. and are 21 years of age or older, as long as their work is “based on the idea of the lens-based image,” according to the Foundation’s website. Awards of up to $10,000 have been given every year since the IPF’s inception—with the exception of 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006. Past recipients have included Gregory Crewdson, Matt Eich, Lisa Elmaleh, Ashley Gilbertson, Ron Jude, Deana Lawson, Simone Lueck and Lori Waselchuk.

Related Articles:

Wayne Lawrence Wins 2013 Arnold Newman Prize
Justin Maxon Wins $15,000 Alexia Foundation Grant

June 11th, 2013

Photographer Injured in Istanbul Protests

On Sunday, June 2, photojournalist Antonio Bolfo of Reportage by Getty was injured in Istanbul after police forces fired tear gas canisters into a crowd of protesters and press. Bolfo was in the Besiktas neighborhood, covering demonstrations, when one of the tear gas canisters struck and broke his leg.

Bolfo says he and photojournalist Nicole Tung had been covering the protests for two days and that during that time they “had numerous close calls of getting shot with gas canisters.” He adds, “The police were not always lobbing them at the 45 degrees as they are supposed to, they were shooting line drives at us. They were aiming at people and using the canisters as a weapon.”

Tung had already left the demonstration to file her images when Bolfo was struck. However, photographer Patrick Tombola, one of several photographers and reporters covering the event, had stayed behind with Bolfo and helped him to a triage station at a local mosque. Bolfo and Tung later flew back to New York City for his recovery.

Bolfo happened to arrive in Istanbul on Friday, May 31, the same day that police began violently cracking down on demonstrations. The protests had begun in Istanbul a week earlier, sparked by an announcement that a public park in Taksim Square was being turned into a shopping mall. The movement has now grown into civil unrest focusing on the Turkish government.

Prior to arriving in Istanbul, Bolfo had been covering the civil war in Syria for several weeks, and hoped to use the visit to Turkey for rest. Instead, he and Tung spent two days covering the demonstrations.

There have been reports of police targeting members of the press during the protests, which Bolfo found was the case on the ground. Bolfo, who is familiar with police force tactics after documenting the New York City Police Department in his series “NYPD: Operation Impact 1” and “NYPD: Operation Impact 2,” says that police are often following orders from higher level government officials. “I think officials in the U.S. are more willing to let peaceful protests run their course,” Bolfo explains. “They understand, from history, that using force against a peaceful demonstration usually causes trouble for any government … Once violence is unleashed, it is very hard to cap. In this case, I think the police violence towards a peaceful sit-in is wrong. But I also understand that the police then need to react aggressively towards violent protesters to protect themselves and people’s property. It becomes a vicious cycle that is very hard to end.”

His advice to photographers planning on covering the protests in Turkey: “Once projectiles start flying, get to cover. It sucks being taken out of a story because of injury, or worse.”

*Update: Reporters Without Borders reports that photographer Mathias Depardon was injured in Istanbul on June 11 while covering police attempts to clear Taksim Square of protesters. Depardon said a projectile fired by police (he said he was unsure what the projectile was) struck his mask.

Related Articles from the PDN Archive:

What To Expect If You’re Injured on Assignment
Low-Cost Insurance For Photojournalists Working Abroad
2012 Marty Forscher Fellowship Fund Professional Winner: Antonio Bolfo
2013 PDN‘s 30 Photographer: Nicole Tung