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January 30th, 2012

Photographer Andrew MacNaughtan Dies, Age 47

Toronto-based photographer Andrew MacNaughtan died on January 24, 2012 while on assignment. MacNaughtan, who was best known for photographing Canadian celebrities and musicians, reportedly had a heart attack while photographing the classic rock band Rush. The band released the following statement on its Web site and Facebook page:

“We’re deeply shocked and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of our close friend and long-time photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan. He was a sweet person and a very talented artist. Words cannot describe how much he will be missed.”

MacNaughtan is survived by his partner, Alex Kane Privitera; parents, Neil and Barbara MacNaughtan; sister Sarah and her husband Nino Curcione; brother Alex and his wife Dorothy MacNaughtan; and uncle and aunt, Phillip and Samantha Curcione.

January 25th, 2012

Who’s Shooting What: Nigel Parry, Peter Lindbergh Shoot New Campaigns

PDN advertising photography-Who's Shooting What

©Peter Rad--From an anniversary campaign for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, featured in PDN's Who's Shooting What column.

In the latest installment of PDN’s Who’s Shooting What column, we feature Nigel Parry’s work for the MSNBC “Lean Forward” print campaign,  Peter Lindbergh’s work with actress Gwyneth Paltrow for the Coach spring/summer 2012 campaign, a nude by Emily Shur for an advocacy campaign, plus a lot of other assignment work by photographers from all over the country (not just LA and New York). We also name the ad agencies and creatives behind the assignments for Bally, AOL, VW, Frito-Lay, Cocoa Metro and other clients.

Another special feature of the latest Who’s Shooting What column is our first-ever WSW Quiz, where readers can test their skill at separating advertising fact from fiction.

If you would like to see your advertising work featured in future installments of Who’s Shooting What, follow the submission instructions here for consideration. Please note that WSW is primarily for advertising assignment work. Editorial work is rarely included.

Now, for the fine print: you have to be a PDN subscriber to access the WSW column, which is behind our pay wall. Subscription information is available here.

January 24th, 2012

Comparing Notes, Photographers Turn on Retna

An apparent administrative slip-up has stirred an uprising at music and celebrity photo agency Retna, with photographers complaining that the agency is failing to report sales, pay royalties, or respond to calls and e-mails from frustrated contributors. Retna’s CEO acknowledges the problems, but blames them on his predecessors, and has told contributors he is correcting them.

Photographers started comparing notes last week after an agency employee sent notification about the agency’s change of address in New York City. Instead of copying photographers in the blind carbon copy (BCC) field of the e-mail, the agency employee distributed the names and e-mail addresses of dozens of photographers so all could see who had received the e-mail.

Read the full story on

January 20th, 2012

Annie Leibovitz, On the Trail of Bygone Celebrities

©Annie Leibovitz--From "Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage." Something on TV got Elvis Presley all shook up. Leibovitz took this photo in a storage room at Graceland.

New work by Annie Leibovitz goes on exhibit today at the American Art Museum in Washington, DC., and it’s only distantly related to the celebrity portraiture she’s so famous for:  Leibovitz has turned her camera on the personal effects and ephemera of celebrities from bygone eras, especially notable women.

The exhibition, called “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage,” includes 60 personal images she shot from 2009 through 2011 while traveling around the US and elsewhere. Among the images are landscapes, but the images of things left behind by famous people are the draw.

Those images include a photograph of Louisa May Alcott’s dolls; a close-up of a something-of-hearts playing card signed by Annie Oakley, with a bullet hole that the famous markswoman put through one of the hearts; an Emily Dickinson dress; and Georgia O’Keefe’s pastels. Famous men are also represented: Leibovitz includes a photograph of TV set that Elvis Presley shot through with a large-caliber bullet sometime in the 1970s.

Leibovitz is a celebrity herself because of her commercial portraits of so many icons of pop culture.  But she has published and exhibited several personal projects in the past, notably images of her parents and her partner, the late Susan Sontag, and compiled much of it in her book “A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005.”

January 4th, 2012

Jim Marshall’s Estate Sues Fashion Designer for Copyright Infringement

The estate of rock ‘n roll photographer Jim Marshall has sued fashion designer John Varvatos for using photos of celebrity musicians without permission in store displays.

According to the lawsuit, Varvatos infringed Marshall’s copyright by reproducing prints of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, BB King, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and several other rock stars without permission. Varvatos allegedly displayed those reproductions in his own stores, as well as in Bloomingdale’s stores in California and elsewhere.

Bloomindale’s is also named as a defendant in the case, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco on December 29. (more…)

December 27th, 2011

Is Rihanna Risking Another Copyright Fight?

Two months after she settled a copyright suit brought by photographer David LaChapelle, pop singer Rihanna once again has the blogosphere in an uproar. Recently, a LiveJournal blog posted screenshots from her new video, “You Da One,” alongside images by photographer Sølve Sundsbø. The scenes from the video show Rihanna in a bowl-cut wig wearing what appears to be a nude bodysuit with the shadows of various shapes projected on to her body. The shots are remarkably similar to editorial work Sundsbø has done, which Fashionista reported appeared in a 2008 issue of Numero magazine. Neither Rihanna nor Sundsbø, who is represented by Art+Commerce, have released statements regarding these latest accusations.

Earlier this year, Rihanna was sued by LaChapelle for copyright infringement, who claimed scenes from her video “S&M” borrowed heavily from various sadomasochistic images he’s made. The two reached an out-of-court settlement agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Related articles:

Rihanna Settles Lawsuit with David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna for Infringement

November 23rd, 2011

“Irresponsible” Miu Miu Ad Shot by Bruce Weber Banned in Britain

Banned Miu Miu Ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a non-governmental group that deals with “complaints about advertising” in the U.K., banned a Miu Miu fashion ad shot by Bruce Weber because they found it to be “irresponsible and in breach of the Code in showing a child in a hazardous or dangerous situation.” The child in question is 14-year-old American actress Hailee Steinfeld, the breakout star of last year’s True Grit.

The ad shows Steinfeld donning 1940s-inspired Miu Miu clothing while sitting on abandoned railroad tracks. The ASA accepted parent company Prada’s explanation that the setting was meant to depict an actress on a movie set, relaxing between takes and rubbing her eye nonchalantly, rather than to suggest the young girl is upset and contemplating suicide. The ASA also acknowledged that the ad was geared toward a mature audience since it was published in Tatler magazine, whose readership is for the most part adult. However, the ASA still found the ad to be troublesome since Steinfeld is shown in a “potentially hazardous situation” and noted the “ad must not appear again in its current form.”

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November 17th, 2011

Annie Leibovitz ♥’s Her iPhone Camera

We recently did a story about professional photographers who are choosing to go with smaller cameras and smartphones for their photography because it makes the process simpler and more discreet. Add to that list one more noted photographer: Annie Leibovitz.

Leibovitz recently told NBC’s Brian Williams that her favorite “snapshot” camera these days is Apple’s iPhone. The reason?

“It’s so accessible and easy,” Leibovitz told Williams.

Meanwhile, the New York Times just posted this story about accessories to turn your smartphone into “a semi-pro camera.” (Whatever that means.)

Watch the interview with Leibovitz below and tell us in the comments what you think about the whole “smartphone photography” phenomenon.

Just a fad or does it have the makings of a major move away from big digital SLRs to compacts as the tool of choice?

(Via Petapixel)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

October 31st, 2011

PhotoPlus Seminar: Chris Buck on Launching, and Sustaining, Your Career

"Tiffany Claus Isn't Angelina Jolie," from Buck's series on celebrity lookalikes. © Chris Buck

There’s a consistent vision to Chris Buck’s photos, from his earliest portraits of musicians to his recent commercial and editorial work, including his cover photo of Michelle Bachmann for Newsweek. That’s because throughout his career, he’s taken photos for himself, Buck explained in his PhotoPlus Expo seminar, “Buck Naked: The Secrets Behind the Master Portrait Photographer Chris Buck.” The importance of staying true to your vision was a theme that ran throughout the seminar, as Buck offered practical advice for both photographers beginning their careers and established photographers who are interested in landing new clients.

As a pop-culture obsessed teen in Toronto, Buck began taking portraits of local musicians and building his portfolio before he graduated from university.  On a trip to New York to visit magazines he admired, he recalled, “I was kind of floored that people were warm and friendly.” After graduation, while his friends moved into downtown apartments, he lived with his parents to save money, took a job as a photo editor, and developed his photography skills before moving to New York in 1990. His early jobs shooting for the Village Voice, Guitar World and other publications were “just front of the book, very unglamorous assignments but what was important to me was that I could shoot the way I had wanted.” Having saved money for his move to New York, he says, “At the beginning I wasn’t thinking about having to make a profit. I was thinking about my vision.”

Never having assisted, Buck admits it took him years to learn lighting; “It was very trial and error.” At the advice of his former photo teacher, he kept a diary in which he would take notes about every shoot so he could learn from his mistakes. Over the years he moved from shooting 35mm, to a Hasselblad, to a Mamiya RZ 67.

After he signed with his first rep, Julian Richards, he sent out a color Xerox promo in 1992 made from his images of actors Marisa Tomei, Stephen Rea and others nominated for Academy Awards that year. Based on the Xeroxes, Fortune assigned him to shoot business executives. “I went from being in the red to being in the black,” Buck says and, thanks to Fortune’s expense account, “I got a taste for eating steak.”

Turning 30 marked an artistic and personal milestone for Buck. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer, went home to Canada for treatment and, he says, “I realized I was never going to be Irving Penn. I realized I’d never be a master.” It was “a difficult realization I had to deal with in order to move forward.” Ironically, that realization inspired him to stop looking at the work of his heroes and contemplate what was distinctive in his own work.

In photographing celebrities, Buck would first shoot what the client wanted and then, whenever possible, take a few minutes to shoot “for me.”  He said, “I needed to keep some connection to why I was shooting in the first place.” He said he didn’t want to become like a band that makes one crossover hit, or a respected photographer who goes commercial, “and then ten years later…their work has become totally boring.”

Buck showed his photo of comedian Chris Farley clowning on white seamless –an image his client had asked for. Then he showed his series of window lit shots of Farley brooding in a dark hallway, a tiny figure within the frame. Buck said he had sometimes questioned how much he pushed his subjects to get what he wanted. After Farley’s death, when the torments of the comedian’s final years were revealed, Buck went back to the contact sheets from this session and realized, “Everyone has their dark side, and I shouldn’t be afraid to bring that out in portraits.”

In the late 90s, Buck decided that to get commercial assignments, he would need to show clients he could shoot real people. He began shooting personal work of family members and taking editorial assignments that allowed him to photograph unknowns. That led to work for HP and other ad jobs.  He launched a similar self-promotion effort in the “mid aughts,” he said. He did a series of people –including his father and his photo assistant—kneeling on all fours. He also photographed celebrity look-alikes and people named Chris Buck. His series called “Presence,” in which famous people like Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman and Robert De Niro are present within the frame but hidden from view, became a long-term project and will be published as a book next year. “Even with an established career I think it’s important to think about what is going on in the marketplace and be open to new ideas and new technologies,” said Buck, who is now repped by Marge Casey and Associates.

Buck’s most famous photo may be his recent Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachmann. In the media storm that the image inspired, Buck said, he “let Newsweek carry the narrative,” which lead to the “odd experience” of seeing Newsweek editor Tina Brown on television “explaining what my intentions were,” then hearing the interviewer say, “I wouldn’t let Chris Buck take my photo.”

Buck remains reticent about the photo. However, during the Q&A, an audience member asked if Bachmann’s handlers had asked for image approval before the shoot. Buck said he didn’t know, but he has rarely photographed anyone who insisted on approving the image selection, and Bachmann’s camp were told that if they went on the record asking for it, it could make them look like they were manipulating the media.

When asked how many photos he delivers to a magazine, Buck says he began doing tighter edits after he heard a rumor that photographer Dan Winters only turns in one photo from his shoots. (He found out the rumor is largely true after he invited Winters to lunch.) Now when he edits a shoot, Buck strives as always to remain true to his vision and the inspiration behind his picture taking. Once he’s pared his edit down to about 12 photos, he said, he always asks himself: “If they run the most boring of these photos, can I live with that?”

October 6th, 2011

Steve Jobs: Visionary, Inventor, and Very Challenging Photo Subject

©Doug Menuez/Getty Images

The media is heaping accolades on Apple founder Steve Jobs, who died yesterday of cancer at the age of 56. Tributes have poured in from all over the world. Jobs was a  visionary who changed the way we use and interact with technology. The iPhone and iPad have certainly helped re-make the photography landscape.

But Steve Jobs also had a reputation among photographers for being a difficult subject–and not just run-of-the mill difficult, but the archetype of difficult.

“It was the joke among photographers. He was like the nightmare subject,” says San Francisco photographer William Mercer McLeod, who photographed Jobs on assignment a total of five times, and once worked for Apple, helping to develop the company’s Aperture software.

Asked to recount his experiences photographing Jobs, another photographer said,  “I don’t really want to be the guy who pans iGod during this hour of national mourning!”

Photojournalist Ed Kashi, who photographed Jobs about 10 times between the early 1980s and early 1990s, recalled via text message, “He was one of the most difficult subjects I ever dealt with during my Silicon Valley years but I appreciated his awareness of identity, setting and message of the images. There was one time I had to get a picture with him and Ross Perot and when Jobs acted up Perot turned to him and like a stern parent said ‘Steve, Grow up!!’ No matter how dreadful he could be as a subject, I am deeply saddened by his early departure.”

McLeod says his first encounter with Jobs was as an assistant for Kashi. “It was in the late 80s. [Jobs] walked into the the photo shoot and started moving the lights around. Then he picked up the phone and called the art director in New York and said he wanted to do something different.”

McLeod recalls how he and Kashi stood there watching in disbelief. “He’s the only person I ever saw do that,” McLeod continues. “Photographing Steve was like a dance. He had such a thing for control like nobody I’ve ever seen. He loved to be in charge. He wanted to have his say.”

“From an editor’s standpoint he could be difficult,” says Scott Thode, a former Fortune magazine photo editor. “[He was] not unlike a political candidate. The main difference is that he had a real sense of design and how things can look.”

Doug Menuez spent more time photographing Jobs than just about any other photographer, after Jobs agreed to let him document the development of the NeXT computer. Menuez had access to the labs and boardroom for three years.

“In all those years, Steve only screamed at me at the top of his lungs once,” Menuez recalls. It was in 1988, when Fortune hired Menuez to shoot a portrait of Jobs for the cover of the magazine. Menuez wanted to photograph him in the NeXT offices, on a staircase that Jobs had commissioned architect I.M Pei to design. Jobs arrived for the shoot, looked at what Menuez had in mind, “then [he] leaned in and says, ‘This is the stupidest fucking idea that I’ve ever seen.’ Right in my face, like  5 or 6 inches away,” Menuez says. “I felt like I was 10 years old. He went off on a tirade. He said, ‘You just want to sell magazines. ‘And I said, ‘And you want to sell computers.’ And at that he said, ‘OK,’ and sat down.

Menuez concludes, “ I’ve been in war zones, but I like to say that I became a man learning how to stand my ground with Steve.”

Albert Watson, who photographed Jobs just once for a portfolio of people in power that Fortune commissioned him to shoot in 2006, had a different experience from other photographers. “The one thing I insisted on was that we have a three hour window of set up time,” Watson says. “We were prepared…we set up to make [every shoot] as greased lightning fast as possible for the [subject].’ Watson says he had also read “a massive amount of stuff” about Jobs to help him conceptualize the shoot, and so he would be able to converse with Jobs intelligently.

When Jobs walked in, Watson says that his power, charisma and genius were palpable. “It was like when Clint Eastwood walks in to the room.”

Jobs didn’t look immediately at Watson, but looked instead at the set-up and then focused on Watson’s 4×5 camera “like it was something dinosauric,” Watson recalls, “and he said, ‘Wow, you’re shooting film.”

“I said, ‘I don’t feel like digital is quite here yet.’ And he said, ‘I agree,’ then he turned and looked at me and said, ‘But we’ll get there.’”

Jobs gave Watson about an hour–much longer than he ever gave most photographers for a portrait session. “I had wanted to do the shot in a minimalistic way because I knew that was going to suit him very well. He said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I said I would like 95 percent, almost 100 percent of eye contact with the camera, and I said, ‘Think about the next project you have on the table,’ and I asked him also to think about instances where people have challenged him.

“If you look at that shot, you can see the intensity. It was my intention that by looking at him, that you knew this guy was smart,” Watson says, adding, “I heard later that it was his favorite photograph of all time.”

Apple cleared its home page today to post that photograph as a tribute to Jobs.

(correction: an earlier version of this story said Fortune commissioned Albert Watson to photograph Steve Jobs in 2008. The date was actually 2006.)