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April 25th, 2012

FujiFilm Announces Film Price Increase

Earlier this week FujiFilm announced that a price increase will take effect starting in May for its color negative films, color reversal films, black and white films and QuickSnap single use cameras.

Though the announcement (full text below) was short on specific details, it did say that the increases would be “substantial” and would be in the “double digits” for some films depending on where they are sold.

FujiFilm noted that, “The demand for film products is continuously decreasing, yen’s appreciation and the cost of production, such as raw materials, oil and energy, continues to rise or stay at high level.”

A representative for FujiFilm told PDN the company would issue specific information about increases in the US market in the next few days, so stay tuned.

For more on the future of the film photography business, be sure to check out our report coming in the June issue of PDN.

Press Release, April 23, 2012

FUJIFILM Corporation announces price increase of Photographic Films

FUJIFILM Corporation has announced that it will implement a worldwide price increase for its photographic films. The price increases are substantial and it would be double digit, but will vary depending on products, markets and regions.

1. Products: Photographic Films: Color Negative Films, Color Reversal Films, Black and White Films, and Quick Snap.

2. Date of Price Increases: Effective from May 2012

The demand for film products is continuously decreasing, yen’s appreciation and the cost of production, such as raw materials, oil and energy, continues to rise or stay at high level. Under such circumstances, despite our effort to maintain the production cost, Fujifilm is unable to absorb these costs during the production process and is forced to pass on price increases.
To sustain its photo imaging business, Fujifilm has decided to increase the price of photographic films.

Fujifilm remains committed to photographic products and asserts that even with the new price. Its photographic products remain exceptionally good value compared with other system products.
The new pricing structure will be applied to each market based on its individual conditions.

Related: Kodak Files For Bankruptcy Protection

April 9th, 2012

Does Homeland Security Target Journalists for Search and Seizure?

An article published yesterday by Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald details the Department of Homeland Security’s repeated questioning and harassment of an American filmmaker when she has attempted to reenter the country after traveling overseas.

According to Greewald’s article, award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has released two films of a trilogy about the War on Terror, has endured DHS interrogations nearly each of the 40 times she has tried to reenter the country since 2006, when her first documentary film about a Sunni opposition leader in Iraq was released.

Agents often wait for her at the door as she disembarks from international flights. Poitras, a US citizen, has been interrogated for hours, had her personal belongings and reporter’s notebooks seized, held and copied, and her laptop, phone and other devices searched and copied.

It is easy to imagine photojournalists who are working on projects that may be critical of the US government or its “War on Terror” suffering similar difficulties, and DHS’s treatment of Poitras should outrage any US journalist.

As Greenwald reports, Poitras is not alone in her experiences, but her systematic harassment has made traveling for her work miserable, and she has been forced to resort to other methods of transporting and transmitting her work in order to protect her privacy, her rights as a journalist, and the identities of her sources.

Writes Greenwald: “She now avoids traveling with any electronic devices. She uses alternative methods to deliver the most sensitive parts of her work — raw film and interview notes — to secure locations. She spends substantial time and resources protecting her computers with encryption and password defenses. Especially when she is in the U.S., she avoids talking on the phone about her work, particularly to sources. And she simply will not edit her films at her home out of fear — obviously well-grounded — that government agents will attempt to search and seize the raw footage.”

Greenwald’s article also notes that two pieces of legislation proposed by congresspeople aimed at limiting DHS’s power to question US citizens have gained zero traction.

The article is well worth the read for any photojournalists who are working overseas, especially those who are reporting stories on sensitive topics like America’s military actions.

If you’ve been detained or questioned by DHS because of your work and are open to sharing your story with the PDN audience, please comment below or send an email to: editor@pdnoline.com.

April 6th, 2012

Anton Hammerl’s Remains May Have Been Unearthed in Libya

The body of a white male found recently with a camera lens in a mass grave in eastern Libya could be that of photojournalist Anton Hammerl, the Huffington Post reports. Hammerl was shot by troops loyal to deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi on April 5, 2011, according to other journalists who were traveling with him at the time.

Those journalists were captured and detained for several weeks, and reported Hammerl’s death after their release.

The Huffington Post says that Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, has been in Libya following inquiries into the whereabouts of Hammerl’s remains. Bouckaert is now trying to get the governments of South Africa, Britain or Austria to help administer DNA tests for a positive identification of the remains.

Related: Print Auction to Benefit Children of Anton Hammerl to be Held at Christie’s

March 23rd, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: Beating a Photojournalist on a Lisbon Street

©REUTERS/Hugo Correia

In another horrific incident demonstrating police brutality toward photojournalists, even in Western democracies, a Portuguese policeman attacked AFP photographer Patricia Melo as she covered a general strike in Lisbon yesterday. Workers there were on strike to protest austerity measures imposed on Portugal as a condition of the $100 billion bailout provided to the country by other European nations. Reuters photographer Hugo Correia shot this image, which mirrors this other Reuters image from last October, showing an Athens policeman punching a photographer at an anti-austerity protest in that city.

March 20th, 2012

Israel Bans Use of Underweight Models

Israel has passed a law that bans the use of “underweight” models in advertising, and mandates that ads that are retouched to make models appear thinner must include a disclaimer.

According to reports, a fashion photographer and model agent named Adi Barkan has helped promote the bill, which was introduced by Knesset member Rachel Adato.

“I look (back) 15 to 20 years ago, we shot models (sized) 38. Today it’s 24,” Barkan said. “This is the difference between thin and too thin. This is the difference between death and life.”

The law requires that models appearing at photo shoots for ads that will appear in the Israeli market must show a medical report stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards. The standard used by the WHO is “body mass index,” or BMI.

Under the new law, models must present a bill of health that is no more than three months old. Foreign publications sold in Israel will not be required to abide by the new law.

Opposition figures, including Adi Neumman, one of Israel’s top models, argue that the use of BMI is arbitrary and doesn’t allow for different body types. Neumman said she wouldn’t pass the requirement even though she eats well, exercises and is healthy.

“Force actual tests. Make girls go to a doctor. Get a system to follow girls who are found to be puking,” she said, according to an AP report.

March 20th, 2012

A Sign of Restive Times: Policeman Punches Photojournalist

©Thomson Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

Although this image of a Greek police officer punching a news photographer at an Athens street protest was shot last fall, it didn’t come to our attention until yesterday. But the passage of several months makes it no less dramatic or shocking. And it remains timely for what it represents: the tensions between police and media all over the world, including the US, where Occupy protests show signs of stirring once again. In this image, shot by Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis, a police officer punches veteran photojournalist Tatiana Bolari, co-owner of the Greek photo agency Eurokinisi. The incident occurred at an anti-austerity protest on October 5 when police moved against a group of photographers and journalists covering the event, Behrakis told PDN.

March 15th, 2012

Reuters Photographer Recounts Harrowing Trip Into Syria

Reuters has posted photographer Zohra Bensemra’s nail-biting account of her recent five-day trip into Syria. With the help of Syrian activists, she slipped across the Turkish border to document the unrest near Idlib, which has come under attack by government forces in recent days.

“In Libya, miles divided the warring parties. In Syria, enemies are yards apart. The war is being fought from house to house,” Bensemra writes. Recounting civilian deaths in the aftermath of indiscriminate bombing by the military, she says, “From the moment we had crossed the border from Turkey, the terror was palpable in the faces of our guides, of all the villagers.”

Bensemra describes the terror of coming under attack when her guide panicked, and of being hunted by soldiers going house to house after they realized journalists were in the area. Her first-person account is accompanied by photographs of the destruction and death.

“Conditions for our work had been so tough in Syria, that it had been hard to capture many of the striking, bold images that make for the most arresting photography,” she wrote after returning safely to Turkey.

Bensemra’s account coincided with a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists about the dangerous conditions in Syria. Eight journalists have died there since November. CPJ says there is “substantial evidence” that government forces deliberately targeted two local journalists who were killed. And CPJ says that “circumstantial evidence and witness statements point to the possibility that government forces may have taken deliberate, hostile action against the press that led to the deaths of three international journalists, Gilles Jacquier, Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik.”

Meanwhile, two Turkish journalists who were missing in Syria for nearly a week have been captured and handed over to the Syrian secret police, according to news accounts today.

Related:
Photographer Remi Ochlik Killed in Homs, Syria
Remembering 13 Unsung Heroes of Photojournalism
Photographer William Daniels, Edith Bouvier Safe in Lebanon

February 29th, 2012

Remembering 13 Unsung Heroes of Photojournalism

News stories of the deaths in Syria of American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik totaled in the thousands last week. That was followed by hundreds of stories yesterday about the rescue of British photographer Paul Conroy, who was injured in the same attack in Homs, Syria that killed Ochlik and Colvin.

Lost in much of the coverage about Conroy’s rescue was the fact that 35 activists helped Conroy reach safety in Lebanon, and 13 of them died during the rescue mission. AP reported those deaths, which occurred when government troops attacked the activists.

Meanwhile, the death last Friday of Anas al-Tarsha, a young Syrian videographer and the fourth journalist to die in Homs within a week, was virtually unreported by the news media, except in Spain. The Committee to Protect Journalists, NPPA, Lightstalkers, and a few others also mentioned his death. The death of the fourth journalist, Syrian video blogger Rami al-Sayed, also received much less coverage last week than the deaths of Ochlik and Colvin.

In other words, Western journalists get into trouble, and it’s big news. Local journalists and fixers and others who get injured or killed along side them are too often relegated to the footnotes.

Of course, hundreds of Syrians have died and thousands more have been injured in Homs, where government troops have been shelling rebels and unarmed civilians alike for three weeks in order to keep the unpopular Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in power.

But a disproportionate amount of Western media attention and outrage seems reserved for its own journalists, and it raises (again) the uncomfortable questions about the risks that Western journalists impose not only on themselves, but the locals who aid them. (The issue arose last spring, when a driver for four New York Times journalists went missing after they were detained at a checkpoint in Libya. It wasn’t until November that The New York Times quietly acknowledged the driver’s death.)

This isn’t to say that the deaths of Colvin, Ochlik or any other journalists are anything but a tragedy, regardless of their nationality. Nor is it to suggest selfishness or callousness on the part of individual journalists for whom drivers, fixers, or anyone else risks life and limb. (Conroy’s wife has told The Western Morning News that the photographer “is obviously very concerned for all the people who lost their lives in helping them out. It’s a real burden on him to know that so many people died.”)

What makes the issue so complicated is that journalists endanger themselves and others for good, defensible reasons. By bearing witness to the savagery committed by al-Assad, journalists are trying to help the Syrian people. And they are making a difference. The images and reports have turned the international community (with the glaring exceptions of China and Russia) against al-Assad, and put pressure on him to allow the Red Cross and Red Crescent in to help evacuate the dead and wounded.

That’s why al-Assad is targeting journalists with intent to kill them, while Syrian citizens are risking their lives to help those same journalists. The Syrians who died in the rescue of Paul Conroy undertook the mission voluntarily. But their deaths shouldn’t be his burden to bear alone, because they might have died for any journalist in Conroy’s predicament. To recognize and honor them for their sacrifice is to elevate and honor not only them, but all who put themselves at risk anywhere in the world to make the work of journalists possible.

Related stories:
CPJ Says Missing New York Times Driver is Dead
Talking About the Deaths We Don’t Talk About

February 28th, 2012

Injured Photographer Paul Conroy Smuggled Out of Syria

British photographer Paul Conroy, who was injured last week in an attack on a makeshift media center in Homs, Syria that killed two other journalists, has been smuggled to safety in Lebanon, the Associated Press reports.

Syrian activists smuggled Conroy out last night. According to The Guardian, the activists came under attack while they were moving Conroy to safety and several of them died.

The British Sunday Times, for which Conroy works as a staff photographer, confirmed that he is “safe and in Lebanon,” The Guardian reported.

Kate Conroy, the photographer’s wife, said in a statement that “we are delighted and overjoyed at the news” that the he is out of Syria.

Conroy suffered leg injuries in the attack last week that killed French photographer Remi Ochlik and American reporter Marie Colvin. Another French journalist, Edith Bouvier, was also injured in the attack. She remains in hiding in Homs, according to press reports.

Like other foreign journalists, those killed and injured last week had entered Syria illegally to report on the popular uprising against the government, which is refusing legal entry to foreign journalists.

February 13th, 2012

“Know Your Rights” Video for Photographers

HitRECord, an online artist collaborative and production company started by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has created the animated short “They Can’t Turn the Lights Off Now” based on the ACLU of Florida’s pamphlet “Photographers: Know Your Rights.” The setting for the video is a demonstration on Wall Street, where a young girl’s camera is confiscated by a police officer. To her rescue comes Benjamin Franklin (with angel wings), who explains what rights she has to take photographs under the first amendment. The video appears to be making a statement about the recent actions by police to limit journalists and others from documenting Occupy Wall Street protests. Watch the video below and go to ACLU.org to learn more about photographer rights.

Related Articles:

After Arrest Photog Recovers Deleted Video File, Vows to Sue Police

U.S. Falls to #47 on Press Freedom Index, Thanks to Occupy Crackdowns

London’s Occupied Spaces (9 Photos)