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August 26th, 2011

Friday Pre-Hurricane Fun: Blog Reenacts Silly Stock Photos

It’s Friday and everyone here in New York City is more than a little on edge because of this supposed “Storm of the Century” that’s headed our way.

To take our mind off fast approaching Hurricane Irene, we’ve been getting a few laughs from this Tumblr blog entitled “Stocking Is the New Planking” where stock photos are reenacted for fun and general amusement.

We really know what the point of it is but that’s probably the point.

Stay dry, friends.

(Via psfk)

August 25th, 2011

You Just Found Out Your Subject Is a Bully. Do You Shoot? Or Cancel?

Last week, photographer Jennifer McKendrick of Indiana County, Pennsylvania discovered that four high school seniors that she was scheduled to shoot for their yearbook had been bullying a fellow student on Facebook. So McKendrick sent e-mails to the students canceling the shoots. She explained why, attached screen shots of the bullying comments they had made–and cc’d the students’ parents. (more…)

August 10th, 2011

Twitter Launches Photo-Sharing Feature

Twitter has launched its native photo-sharing feature, allowing Twitter users to post photographs to Twitter without using a third-party service such as TwitPic or yfrog.

Images of 3mb or less can now be posted to Twitter by clicking a camera icon in the bottom left of the status update window. The image will only appear as a thumbnail in Twitter feeds, but users can click on a particular tweet to see the photo enlarged on the right-hand side of the page.

The launch of the function is good news considering the once-popular TwitPic signed a deal in May to license users’ photographs without compensation through World Entertainment News Network, provoking the ire of many its users.

Still, photographers should be aware that Twitter’s terms of service still give them the right to use your content or let others use your content.

Here is the relevant verbiage:

“You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods  (now known or later developed).

“Tip: This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.

“You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.”

Last year, photographer Daniel Morel sued AFP and Getty for unauthorized use of his images of the Haiti earthquake, which he uploaded to Twitpic. The defendants tried to argue that, according to the Twitter terms of service, whatever is posted on Twitter is free for the taking by anyone with access to Twitter. A federal judge rejected their argument as a misreading of Twitter’s terms of service. While those terms give Twitter and its “partners and affiliates” the right to use, copy, reproduce, publish and distribute content uploaded to Twitter, the judge noted that AFP, Getty and other defendants were merely users of the service.

Related story:
Daniel Morel Wins Pre-Trial Victory Against AFP, Getty

August 1st, 2011

Joao Silva’s First Assignment Since His Injury a Fitting One

Photojournalist Joao Silva, who lost both of his legs last October after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan, took on an appropriate first assignment for The New York Times last week: photographing the closing of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the hospital where he worked to recover from his injuries alongside soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As detailed in a post on Lens, the Times’ photography blog, Silva was already covering the hospital’s closing ceremony when the assignment came in from national picture editor David Scull and Michele McNally, the Times’ director of photography.

Silva’s image of a crowd observing a parachute demonstration at the closing ceremony ran on page one of the newspaper on Thursday.

Related:

Photographer Joao Silva Wounded in Afghanistan

Fund Established for Injured Photog Joao Silva and Family

Joao Silva Being Treated at Washington Army Hospital

Joao Silva Takes First Step on Artificial Legs

June 23rd, 2011

When Life Gives Photogs Lemons, They Make Viral Videos

STUCK from Joe Ayala on Vimeo.

Faced with a night stranded in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, auto racing photographers Joe Ayala and Larry Chen decided to put their photo equipment to good use. They created a video of themselves playing around in the empty airport—racing wheelchairs, raiding restaurant kitchens and surfing escalators—which became a viral hit, scored them a ton of free publicity, and drew the ire of cranky pants airport officials. The pair also spoke to Jalopnik about how they created the video.

May 3rd, 2011

UPDATED: If White House Releases ‘The Photo,’ Will Conspiracy Theorists Believe?

Helene Cooper at the New York Times has a post today on The Caucus Blog that reports the White House is “leaning towards” releasing photographic evidence of Bin Laden’s killing.

“It looks like him, covered in blood, with a hole in his head,” an unnamed official told Cooper. There are reasons the White House wouldn’t release the photo, including their desire to honor Muslim law, which led to Bin Laden’s burial at sea, and concern that releasing the photograph might provoke Bin Laden’s followers, or perhaps even violate international law.

In her article Cooper notes that in addition to voices on the political right and conspiracy theorists, many ordinary Americans are interested in seeing the photo to provide “closure” to the September 11 attacks and their aftermath.

It’s interesting to consider, however, whether seeing will be believing. The ordinary citizens who believe Bin Laden is dead seem likely to accept a photograph as the final bit of proof.

But a photo, if released, may do little for conspiracy theorists and others who disbelieve the claim Ben Laden is dead, except of course touch off another round of debate and analysis centered on the image itself and its validity.

In an age where a fake photos of a dead Bin Laden were already picked up and circulated by news organizations, much to their embarrassment, it is certainly conceivable that a photo could be created and/or staged. It begs the question: can a photograph alone bear the burden of proof any longer, or will the public require testimony from imaging experts in order to accept the validity of the image? Will a photograph do anything to convince those who already question the US government’s claims?

UPDATE, 5/4/11, 3:15pm EST:

President Obama has decided not to release photographic evidence of Bin Laden’s death, saying in an interview with 60 Minutes, a transcript of which was read today at a White House press briefing, “we don’t trot this stuff out as trophies — that’s not who we are.” Though Obama appears to be positioning the decision as a moral and ethical choice by the government, the fact that a photograph would do little to prove Bin Laden’s killing to those who don’t believe it happened must have played a role, making the release of the photo a decision with more potential downside than upside.

When issued by a government, the decision suggests, photographic evidence isn’t worth much, except to those who would use it as—positive or negative—propaganda.

February 28th, 2011

Free Undergrad-Level Photo Courses Offered Online and in App by UK Professor

A photography professor at Coventry University in England is publishing his undergraduate-level photography classes online and in an app, making instruction and education available for free to photographers all over the world.

Picbod (Picturing the Body) and Phonar (Photography and Narrative) are, respectively, second- and third year undergraduate classes taught by photographer Jonathan Worth. Students who are not enrolled in Coventry University can follow the courses online, and can also choose to participate by asking questions, making comments and submitting photographic work they do based on class assignments. Those who choose to follow the classes can also listen to lessons and guest lectures from photographers like Elinor Carucci and Grant Scott. Comments, and links to articles and information of interest, are also shared amongst the students via the #picbod and #phonar Twitter hashtags, and via course Facebook pages, further fostering the community feel of the courses. All of the material also lives on the Web sites and in the app, so outside students can take the courses at their own pace. The material will be updated as each new class at Coventry University is taught. (more…)

February 8th, 2011

Joao Silva Takes First Step on Artificial Legs

New York Times photographer Joao Silva is shown taking his first steps Monday on artificial legs in this video, which was posted today on The New York Times Lens blog. Silva lost both legs after stepping on a mine last October in Afghanistan. “The therapist fitted my legs and asked me if I’d like to walk,” Lens quotes Silva. “So off I went. Must have walked up and down that ramp 20 times. Couldn’t get enough of it.”

Related: Photographer Jaoa Silva Wounded in Afghanistan

January 24th, 2011

3 Photogs,3 Military Medevac Stories, 1 Blogosphere Ruckus

The nearly simultaneous publication recently of three photo essays from Afghanistan in three different publications stirred up some partisan debate last week on Michael Shaw’s BagNews Notes blog. Shaw noted that the three award-winning photojournalists who shot the stories – James Nachtwey, published in Time; Tyler Hicks, published in The New York Times; and Louie Palu, published in the Toronto Star-  had all been embedded with helicopter medavac units, and all showed them tending to wounded soldiers.

“Is this pure coincidence?” Shaw wrote, “Or, does it illustrate (too well, in this case) the acumen of the Pentagon in the mediating of war access? Either way, in the aggregate this is a stunning display of American chauvinism given the intimate framing of the war in such a redundantly heroic narrative, all eyes on our warriors as saviors on high.”

Shaw wrote that he didn’t want to “take anything away from the thoroughly accomplished” photographers, only to critique how “big media” has filtered coverage of the war. The New York Times did not respond to our requests for comment; a spokesperson for Time would say only that the publication of the three stories “is pure coincidence. To suggest anything otherwise is completely inaccurate.”

But at least one of the photographers cried foul, and passionately.

“It just makes me angry. [Shaw has] taken one photo out of an entire essay, and used it to suit his argument. What he’s saying is important, but he misused my photo” to say it, Palu says.

Contrary to what Shaw wrote in his original post (which Shaw has since amended), The Star didn’t hire Palu to shoot the story. He says he took the medevac embed last fall as part of his Alexia Grant project to document the social, cultural, and political fabric of the Kandahar region. The Star picked up his story-which included more than medevac pictures–afterwards. Part of Palu’s motive for taking that embed, he says, was to get access to civilians. And the medevac embed was one small part of a six-month trip to Afghanistan.

“I’m not defending the military or Pentagon,” he says. “Obviously, the images [Shaw selected] are good publicity [for the US military,] but I’m showing a lot more than heroic medics. I’ve shown civilians people ripped apart, and soldiers missing their legs, with no medics tending them”

In other words, he says, he’s made a lot of photographs of military and civilian casualties that don’t make the military look good at all. But photojournalists covering the war just can’t seem to win, he says. “If we cover just dead bodies and dead soldiers, we get criticized…We’re finally showing casualties, and getting criticized for showing casualties because we’re showing medics saving them.”

The Star‘s Foreign Editor, Colin MacKenzie, said Shaw’s blog post “takes us back to the beginning of the embed debate, at the dawn of time. Yeah, you’re covering your team, in effect. Implicit with the embed is, you’re with your guys, and that’s the price you pay for access.

“The images are implicitly rah rah because you are rescuing people. If it was the only coverage that The Times and Time magazine and The Star were doing, it [Shaw's criticism] might be a fair accusation. But none of the organizations have confined our coverage to rah rah embed stuff.”

After PDN contacted Shaw about Palu’s comments, Shaw added a note to his post clarifying when Palu shot the images, but he told PDN via email, “I’m less concerned about HOW they got there than THAT they ARE there and what effect they have, once there, on the public mind and the behavior of the citizenry.”  The blog is concerned with published images and the messages they convey, he says; film critics don’t interview  movie stars before writing reviews, and he doesn’t  interview photographers.  “That’s not to say that I don’t also have a lot of opinions about the powers that be and how corporate media, the military and the government are extraordinarily sophisticated about visual messaging (by commission AND omission) in the shaping of public opinion. I do, I don’t hide it and I don’t apologize for it. “

He notes that he’s familiar with Palu’s work, and knows him as “someone who has no qualms about speaking truth to power.” But he’s concerned with the military’s control of news. “It’s the frustration over the military’s media control and censorship, combined with big media’s recent attraction to uncomplicated ‘personal interest’-type pieces.… that, I believe, has produced such a strong and confirming response to my post from shooters and citizens alike.”

Shaw adds, “I’d go so far as say that, if only a fraction of Louie’s work from Afghanistan had been published flat out (especially his earlier work from the South), and we didn’t have the media filter to contend with, the US would probably have withdrawn several years ago.”

--David Walker
(images, top to bottom: © JAMES NACHTWEY FOR TIME; © TYLER HICKS/THE NEW YORK TIMES; © LOUIE PALU/ZUMA PRESS; )

January 17th, 2011

Here’s Some “Stuff” Photojournalists Like

In the spirit of the popular blogs “Stuff White People Like” and “Stuff Journalists Like,” someone has started a little Tumblr blog called “Sh*t Photojournalists Like.” Seemed inevitable, right?

So what do photojournalists like, according to this blog? Well, there are a couple of things we like as well such as “Coffee Mugs that Look Like Lenses” and “Shooting Wide Open.”

What else? See for yourself and add your own suggestions here.