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November 12th, 2012

Marketing Jordan Matter’s “Dancers Among Us” Photos

Photographer Jordan Matter helps out as a PDN product tester from time to time so we were pleased as punch to see his new book of photographs, Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday, debut on The New York Times‘ best seller list recently.

Matter’s images, which feature professional dancers performing in everyday situations across the United States, premiered on PDN’s Photo of the Day blog back in 2010 and then returned in March of this year. (See a few of his images below.)

Since then, the Dancers Among Us project has really taken off. Along with the book, the Internet has fallen in love with Matter’s joyful images. He was featured on Reddit in a Q&A with readers last week and several photography-related websites and blogs have run his images (often without his permission, it’s worth noting), turning the shots into the latest viral photo sensation.

Along with crediting PDN for helping him get his first early exposure of the project, Matter says the below marketing video created to promote Dancers Among Us has been successful at getting him and his work featured on the Today show and in The Washington Post.

Bravo Jordan!

© Jordan Matter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Jordan Matter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Jordan Matter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Jordan Matter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Jordan Matter

October 29th, 2012

PPE 2012: James Balog on Using Art to Alter Perception About the Environment

As the Northeast braces for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall this evening, with schools and offices—including PDN‘s—closed in preparation, it seems an appropriate time to recap photographer James Balog‘s keynote address this past Saturday at Photo Plus Conference + Expo. Balog’s talk covered his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) project, which shows through time-lapse video the recession of 27 glaciers around the northern hemisphere, from Greenland to Iceland to Alaska to Montana and Nepal. The time-lapses are remarkable: viewers the recent spike in the earth’s temperature manifested in the shrinking of massive glaciers over the course of just a few years. Balog also introduced and screened a documentary about the EIS project, called “Chasing Ice” (see the trailer here).

Balog has dedicated his life and career to photographing the environment and nature, and his talk was more focused on how humans are changing the planet than on photography. But it did present the photographers in the audience with some insights into how photographic tools can be used to change public opinion and into how one photographer is accomplishing that task.

“Art in combination with science has proven to be effective” in shifting the public understanding, Balog noted in explaining his methods and thinking. “We are visual witnesses. [Cameras] are not just tools, they are vital parts of the sensory apparatus of the human race.” Indeed the EIS time lapses, enabled by digital camera technology, have allowed Balog and his team to show us something we could never have otherwise seen.

Balog was a budding scientist when he decided he was more interested in photography than in statistics and crunching numbers, he recalled. As a young adult he “realized that one of the pivotal issues of our era is the intersection of humans and nature,” and his work has focused on “probing that boundary,” he explained.

The EIS project grew from assignments from National Geographic and the New Yorker to photograph glaciers. Through those assignments Balog discovered a way to visualize the idea that humans “are changing the basic operating system of the earth” by burning hydrocarbons, and that that reality could be understood through looking at the planet’s ice. Glaciers serve as barometers and thermometers for the planet, Balog noted, and “everyone knows what happens when ice melts.”

When he launched the EIS project five years ago, Balog and his team created digital camera systems with custom-made timers and solar panels that would capture an image of a glacier every 1/2 hour during daylight hours. Those systems were mounted in modified Pelican cases and trekked into remote areas around the planet to record the changes to some of the most massive glaciers in the world. The results of the project address the “need to introduce more understanding of the truth” of how humans are changing the basic functioning of the earth.

During his talk Balog noted that “Chasing Ice” has been sent several times to President Obama, and to every member of Congress. The film will open in 24 theaters nationwide in November, expanding to more theaters if the public response is positive. Balog also said the EIS group is engaging with the Evangelical Creation Care movement to spread the word about the project and film among that group, which is dedicated to preserving the environment. A book of Balog’s glacier photographs, Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers, was also released last month from Rizzoli.

Balog envisions the EIS project going on indefinitely, he noted. He also spoke about a new non-profit organization he is establishing called Earth Vision Trust, which will look to fund other people’s environmental projects through fellowships.

August 7th, 2012

Do You Have To Move to New York to Succeed? Here’s Patti Smith’s Advice.

When we hold PDN 30 seminars at art schools around the country, students sometimes ask me if they should move to a big –and expensive—market like New York or Los Angeles to get work as photographers. I’m never sure what advice to give: Is there a benefit to being part of a big artistic community that outweighs the need to slave away to pay the rent?  Imagine my surprise when I heard performer and writer Patti Smith offer a very clear opinion on the matter during a reading and book signing in Brooklyn Bridge Park last night.

As the setting sun turned the sky over the East River shades of pink and gold, Smith read several poems and two excerpts from Just Kids, her award-winning memoir about living and making art in New York in the late Sixties and Seventies with her friend photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. One passage described how they survived by eating at the Horn & Hardart Automat, where 65 cents could buy a chicken sandwich, and how Mapplethorpe cut a deal on a Brooklyn apartment by promising to paint the blood-spattered walls and clean the mold and old syringes out of the refrigerator.

Smith then took a question from a member of the audience seeking advice for artists trying to move to New York.  Smith said she regrets that the economy has changed so much, then added that though she can understand why someone would want to live in what she called a “great” city, she recommends that artists keep their eyes on what really matters:   “Do the work.”  Doing the work, she said, might require moving back with your family and “working out of the garage” for a while. Consider your temperament, she advised.  “I always worked 9 to 5 jobs,” and managed to draw and write in her spare time, but “Robert found it harder” to work full time and take photos. Smith, who grew up in South Jersey and lived in Detroit after she married her late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith, said there are cheaper, roomier places to live in Philadelphia and Detroit. But where you live, she said, is less important than what you do.  Success, she said, isn’t determined by landing “a big gallery,” it’s determined by the quality of what you produce. “Do the work,” she repeated. The crowd of New Yorkers applauded.

Smith’s reading was part of the Books Beneath the Bridge series, which supports independently owned bookstores – that is, the few that have not yet gone the way of Horn & Hardart.

July 31st, 2012

With Much Ado About Public Service, Google Pleads Fair Use in Big Copyright Case

Arguing that its Google Books program makes fair use of copyrighted books by providing an indispensable public service, Google has asked a federal court to dismiss The Authors Guild’s claim that Google is infringing the copyrights of authors on a “massive” scale.

Google has scanned more than 12 million books–many of them still under copyright protection–as part of its Google Books program. Google indexes every word of the scanned books. It then makes snippets of the books available in search engine results, according to keywords entered by Google search engine users.

Google’s use of books is fair because it provides vast public benefits without any demonstrated harm to plaintiffs,Google asserts in its motion, filed in US District Court in New York City on July 27. (Emphasis is Google’s.)

The Authors Guild originally sued Google for copyright infringement in 2005, alleging the search engine company is scanning books without permission from authors for its own commercial gain. The guild says the Google Books program undermines the ability of authors to license and sell their books. It is seeking a court injunction to stop the Google Books program. The American Society of Media Photographers has filed a similar but separate lawsuit against Google in 2010.

In making its fair use argument, Google paints itself as a beleaguered public servant, prevented from advancing human knowledge by specious claims of copyright infringement.

“Google Books is an important advance on the card catalogue method of finding books,” the company says in its motion. “The advance is simply stated: unlike card catalogues, which are limited to a very small amount of bibliographic information, Google Books permits full-text search, identifying books that could never be found using even the most thorough card catalog. Readers benefit by being able to find relevant books. Authors benefit because their books can be more readily found, purchased, and read. The public benefits from the increase of knowledge that results.”

Google says that users cannot download the entire text of the books that show up in the search engine results. It only leads them to relevant books which they can purchase elsewhere if they wish.

The scanning and indexing of the books is fair use, Google argues, because the end use (thorough indexing of every word of every book) is “highly transformative”:  Google search engine users can search for information and get results showing snippets from all books containing the search terms. “Indeed, it is no overstatement to say that Google Books has transformed scholarly research,” the company says in its motion. “Google Books yields a literally unprecedented public benefit, and that benefit militates strongly in favor of a finding that Google’s scanning,indexing, and snippet display constitute fair use.”

Google does not mention that its apparent fit of civic virtue is driven by the potential to turn a profit by scanning and indexing the copyright works of authors. Those who use the Google Books index would effectively provide Google with personal information every time they did a search. That information could be sold to marketers, or used by Google to push highly targeted advertisements to Google search engine users.

But Google waves its hands to distract the court’s attention from all of that: “Google’s status as a commercial entity does not tip the scales against a finding of fair use…Much more significant is that a student or professor (or indeed anyone who finds a Library Project book on Google Books) is engaging in precisely the sort of use historically favored as noncommercial.”

Google and The Authors Guild had reached a tentative agreement in 2009 to settle the case. It would have allowed the Google Books program to continue if authors were allowed to opt out. But the judge in thee case rejected the agreement. He said the agreement would have to be ‘opt in’ for all authors (rather than opt out) in order to comply with copyright law.

Google has rejected an ‘opt in’ system as too cumbersome, so the Authors Guild suit has continued. The ASMP lawsuit is also pending.

Without commenting directly on Google’s motion, attorneys for The Authors Guild say they have filed their own motion for summary judgment. That motion is not yet available for public review, however.

Related stories:
Judge Block’s Google’s Divide-and-Conquer Strategy in Big Copyright Case
ASMP, Other Trade Groups Sue Google (subscription required)

June 25th, 2012

Pulitzer Center Publishes First iBook with Photographer Greg Constantine

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization that provides key support to photographers and writers working on long-term investigative journalism projects, made its first foray into digital book publishing late last week with the release of “In Search of Home,” an iBook about statelessness, featuring the photography of Greg Constantine and essays by Stephanie Hanes.

The interactive, 49-page book, grew out Hanes and Constantine’s long-term reporting project on “stateless” people, who are denied the basic rights of citizenship in the countries in which they live, often for religious and ethnic reasons. The iBook focuses on three populations who have no nationality: the Rohingya from Burma, the Nubians of Kenya, and people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. It features four slideshows of Constantine’s images, an audio slideshow that provides an overview on the problems faced by people who live in legal limbo without national identity, as well as other features, like an interactive map and timeline.

“In Search of Home” is the first in a series of iBooks that will be produced by the Pulitzer Center. The project, according to a post by Jon Sawyer, director of the Pulitzer Center,  on the organization’s blog, “is part of a broader Pulitzer Center initiative, seeking out new platforms and partners to extend the work of journalists we support and to make use of the extraordinary presentation of multimedia material now possible on tablets and other mobile devices.”

Proceeds from “In Search of Home,” which is being sold for $4.99 in the iTunes store and can be viewed using the iBook 2 app for iPad and iPhone, will go to Constantine and Hanes, minus the 30 percent Apple charges to carry the book on iTunes.

“We hope to make these books the capstone for the best of our projects, giving readers an immersive, narratively rich way of engaging the issues they cover,” Sawyer said. “We believe these presentations will appeal to all audiences, and especially to the university and secondary-school students that have become a major focus of the Pulitzer Center’s work.”

Related: Q&A: Getting Funding from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Picturing Non-Profit Journalism
Picture Story: An Emmy-Winning AIDS Documentary in Poetry and Pictures
Field Studies: Exploring the Complexities of War-Torn Congo

June 1st, 2012

Registration for Photolucida’s Critical Mass Competition Now Open

© Jennifer B. Hudson, the winner of the 2011 Critical Mass book award.

Registration opened today for the annual Critical Mass juried competition organized by Portland, Oregon photography non-profit Photolucida.

The competition boasts a group of 200-plus jurors from all corners of the photography industry, including curators, photo editors, publishers and gallerists from around the world. Winners receive a “book award,” which results in the publication of a monograph, and two entrants will receive solo shows at either Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, or the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado. The top 50 portfolios entered in the competition are featured on the Critical Mass site and in an exhibition that will be curated by W.M. Hunt.

For more info on fees, prizes and jurors, and to register visit the Photolucida site.

May 21st, 2012

Curator Deborah Willis to Judge 2012 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize

Photo historian, professor and curator Deborah Willis will be the judge for this year’s CDS/Honickman First Book Prize, sponsored by The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and The Honickman Foundation. The winning photographer will receive a $3,000 grant and publication of a book of photographs, an exhibition at the Rubenstein Library Gallery at Duke University and inclusion in a Web site devoted to past winners of the award. American and Canadian photographers who have never published a book-length work before are eligible to enter. Applications will be accepted from June 15 through September 15.

Submissions to the First Book Prize are first screened by a committee lead this year by Kimerly Rorshach, director of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke. According to the FAQs on the First Book Prize Web site, the focus of the competition is on “the breadth and nuance of the body of photographs as an extended narrative and meditation.” The committee’s selection is then turned over to this year’s judge.

Willis is on the faculty of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has published such books as Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present; Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present; The Black Female Body in Photography; and Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs. Previous judges for the First Book Prize include photographers Robert Frank, William Eggleston and Mary Ellen Mark.

Past winners of the prize have included Benjamin Lowy, Jennette Williams, Danny Wilcox Frazier, and Larry Schwarm.

Guidelines for entries can be found at the First Book Prize web site.

May 7th, 2012

Jeff Scott Wins James Beard Award for Photography

Johnny Iuzzini

Pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. © Jeff Scott

Fine-art photographer Jeff Scott won the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award in the Photography category for Notes From a Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession. The award for the self-published, two-volume book, which is a collaboration between Scott and chef Blake Beshore, was announced on Friday, May 4, 2012, in New York City.

The book doesn’t contain any recipes, but instead aims to reveal the creative process for some of the top, young chefs in America. Shot documentary-style, Scott’s photos show the chefs at work and away from the kitchen as well as their personal notebooks where menus are planned and recipes created.

Chef notebooks

Some of the notebooks included in the book. © Jeff Scott

Other finalists for the prize were food, still-life and lifestyle photographer Joseph De Leo, who was nominated for The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen, and food and travel photographer Alan Benson, who worked on Rustica: A Return to Spanish Home Cooking. Last year, Danish photographer Ditte Isager won the photography award for her work on the cookbook Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine.

The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers “events and programs designed to educate, inspire, entertain and foster a deeper understanding of our culinary culture.” Each year the foundation recognizes people in every aspect of the food and beverage industry—from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food writers—who have excelled in their fields. Editorial and commercial photographer Landon Nordeman received the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award in the new category of Visual Storytelling for his Saveur assignments “The Soul of Sicily,” “BBQ Nation” and “Heart of the Valley.” Also of note: Gastronomica was awarded Publication of the Year alongside the Web site Food52.

Notes from a Kitchen Book cover

Notes From a Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession. © Jeff Scott

To see the complete list of 2012 James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast and Journalism Award winners, go to jamesbeard.org.

Related Article:

Cookbooks Come Out of the Kitchen

April 26th, 2012

Judge Refuses to Let Book Publisher Weasel Out of Copyright Lawsuit

A federal court judge in Chicago has refused a textbook publisher’s request to dismiss a photographer’s claim of massive copyright infringement, saying Robert Frerck’s allegations that Pearson Education infringed about 4,000 of his photographs “are sufficient to put Pearson on notice.” The decision is likely to force the company to do what it has been trying to avoid: divulge its records so Frerck is able to identify all unauthorized uses of his images.

Frerck filed suit last August, and said he licensed the publisher usage rights to various photos between 1992 and 2010. He says the licenses were limited by the number of copies, distribution are, language, duration, and media (print or electronic.)

Frerck alleges that the uses often exceeded the license terms, and that the unauthorized uses weren’t an innocent administrative oversight. “Pearson often knew, from its pre-publication plans and its experience with prior editions, that its actual uses under the licenses would exceed the permission it was requesting and paying for,” Frerck asserts in his claim.

In addition, he claims, the publisher used some photographs with no license at all. Frerck says he doesn’t know the extent of those unauthorized uses, but asserts that “Pearson has created, or easily could create, a list of its wholly unlicensed uses” during the discovery process of the case.

He alleges that two Pearson Curriculum Group employees–Julie Orr, Image Manager, Rights and Permissions and Maureen Griffin, Photo Commissions Editor– have already testified that the company has printed textbooks in excess of photo license limits, and used images in some instances without permission.

“Pearson’s business model, built on a foundation of pervasive and willful copyright infringement, deprived Plaintiff and thousands of other visual art licensors of their rightful compensation and unjustly enriched Pearson with outlandish profits in the process,” Pearson alleged in his complaint.

Frerck’s claim is one of many filed against textbook publishers in recent years for unauthorized use of images, and uses far beyond the limits of usage licenses. Frerck cites claims by ten other photographers and stock agencies–including Norbert Wu, Louis Psihoyos, Grant Heilman Photography, DRK Photo, Pacific Stock and others–that are currently pending against Pearson.

Anticipating Pearson’s response, Frerck alleged in his own claim that the publisher’s strategy for getting claims dismissed is to argue that copyright owners can sue only for infringements for which they can provide evidence at the time they file their claims. And that’s exactly how Pearson sought to have Frerck’s claim dismissed. But Pearson hides its infringements from copyright owners, Frerck argues, so copyright owners can’t produce evidence unless a claim is allowed to go forward, forcing Pearson to divulge its records of image use. Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. agreed, saying Frerck provided enough evidence of specific infringement to make all of his claims “plausible.” (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-5319)

Related:
After Flouting Print Run Limits, Publishers Face Dozens of Lawsuits

April 26th, 2012

Want to Meet Daido Moriyama?

On May 3, the day after he receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Awards gala, renowned photographer Daido Moriyama will be signing special editions of his latest book at the ICP in New York City.

The ICP says that the first 200 buyers of Moriyama’s new book, Color, will be able to choose one of 20 original prints which will be inserted in the book’s front cover and then signed by Moriyama himself.

Copies are $200, or $180 for ICP members. The sale not only celebrates Moriyama’s achievements, but also supports the ICP museum, educational programs and community outreach.

The event starts at 6pm at the ICP Museum’s bookstore. Books will be available on a first come, first served basis, and the photographer will only be signing the editions of Color that were made especially for ICP.

Any unsold copies will be available through the ICP store or online.  For further information visit the events page at www.icp.org

Information about the ICP Infinity Awards ceremony and dinner, taking place May 2, can be found at  www.icp.org/support-icp/infinity-awards

Related Article:

Moriyama, Ai Weiwei to Be Honored at ICP Infinity Awards