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September 1st, 2011

Bronx Documentary Center Holds Fundraiser for Hetherington Exhibit & Public Programs

The Bronx Documentary Center, the new non-profit photography exhibition space in the South Bronx, will hold a silent auction on September 12 to raise funds for an exhibition of photographer Tim Hetherington’s final images from Libya. Hetherington was killed on April 20 in Misrata, Libya in a rocket attack that also killed photojournalist Chris Hondros.

Proceeds from the event, to be held at the Bubble Lounge in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, will also benefit education initiatives and public programs at the BDC, according to a release by BDC founder Michael Kamber and project director Danielle Jackson. The Hetherington show is also supported by Committee to Protect Journalists and Foto Care.

Kamber, a photojournalist, founded the BDC as a “new place for photography, film and new media from around the globe.”  Located at Cortland Avenue and 151st Street in the South Bronx, it began hosting events this summer, including a showing of Zana Briski’s documentary, Born Into Brothels, and a talk by New York Times photographer Joao Silva, who lost his legs while embedded with US troops in Afghanistan.

In anticipation of its first exhibition in September, the BDC’s site, powered by Tumblr, has been updated throughout the summer with photographs documenting the surrounding neighborhood as well as photography news. Tonight the BDC will host a “Movies at Sundown” event, featuring the film Fernando Nation, to be followed by Q & A with the director, Cruz Angeles.

You can buy tickets to the fundraiser here.

–Kayla Epstein

August 30th, 2011

The Art Institutes: Legitimate Photo Schools, or Accessories to Fraud?

The Art Institutes, a for-profit chain of colleges that offers degrees in photography and other fields, is training aspiring photographers by the hundreds at locations all over the country, as well as online. Many of the students graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, and dim career prospects.

The US Department of Justice recently sued the owner of The Art Institutes–Education Management Company–for using illegal recruiting methods to collect $11 billion in government-backed student loan money since 2003. EDMC, which is partly owned by Goldman Sachs, denies the charges.

EDMC owns several chains of for-profit colleges, so The Art Institutes doesn’t account for all the student loan money going into the company’s coffers. But former AI recruiters, career counselors, and students interviewed by PDN say that EDMC and AI are preying on low income students who lack the skills and preparation they need to succeed in college, or who lack the knowledge to explore far less expensive educational options available to them. “You’re really kind of ruining peoples’ lives. There’s no nicer way to put it,” one former EDMC career counselor told PDN.

EDMC see it differently, of course. “We offer a pathway to a higher education for many students who are not being served by traditional higher education,” a company spokesperson said.

The full story is posted here at pdnonline.com.

Students, faculty, alums and employees of Art Institutes programs can post their comments and experiences, or their reaction to the Department of Justice law suit, here.

August 24th, 2011

ICP Director Willis Hartshorn to Step Down

Willis “Buzz” Hartshorn, director of the International Center of Photography since 1994, confirmed today that he will leave his position as soon as his replacement is hired. Hartshorn, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, says he is leaving his role at ICP for health reasons. The board of trustees announced his decision publicly in a press release issued this morning. The board has formed a search committee and hired an executive search firm to find his successor.

Hartshorn told The New York Times that he first informed the board of his diagnosis five years ago, and they asked him to stay on. Now 60, Hartshorn said, “I’m seven years into this thing, and I can feel the difference physically.” He also said, “It’s not fair to them [the ICP staff and trustees] and the best thing for me and my family is that I pace myself in an appropriate way.”

In an email he sent to donors and supporters yesterday in advance of the museum’s press release, Hartshorn said he plans to “transition to a different role at ICP.” He had recently begun a strategic planning initiative for ICP.

Hartshorn was named the director in 1994, succeeding the museum’s founder, photographer Cornell Capa.  During Hartshorn’s tenure, the museum moved from its historic building on E 94th Street to its current location in midtown, across the street from the campus of the ICP school. Hartshorn also lead the capital campaign which raised more than $20 million to fund the move and the renovation of the facilities. In 2003, ICP held its first triennial, its survey of contemporary photography around the world. The growing stature and ambition of the museum’s exhibition schedule, permanent collection and photography school is reflected in its operating budget, which has grown from $6.5 million in 1995 to $17 million in 2010, while also balancing its budget, according to the ICP board.

“Buzz and his team have lead ICP from strength to strength throughout his 17-year tenure, from its exhibition programs, to its greatly increased endowment, to the breadth and depth of its educational programs, and the photography talent trained by ICP, to its leading position in the world of photography,” said Jeffrey A. Rosen, president of the ICP board of trustees in the statement announcing Hartshorn’s departure.

Hartshorn received his BA at the University of Rochester and his MFA in Photographic Studies from the Visual Studies Workshop/SUNY Buffalo. He worked at the George Eastman House in Rochester before he joined the staff of ICP in 1982.  Among the exhibitions he curated for the museum were “Annie Leibovitz: Photographs 1970-1990” and “Man Ray: Bazaar Years.”  He had served as the museum’s deputy director under Capa before he was named to the position of director.

June 24th, 2011

Leica Helped Jews Escape Nazi Germany (VIDEO)

Ever heard of the Leica Freedom Train? We hadn’t either until we saw this compelling video by that same name on YouTube.

Everyone now knows about “Schindler’s List” thanks to the Steven Speilberg movie but less have heard of Ernst Leitz II, heir to the founder of the Leica company, and his daughter Elsie Kuehn-Leitz, who helped many German Jews get reassigned overseas after Hitler came to power. Some of Leitz’ Jewish employees were assigned to sales offices in New York City.

Fascinating stuff.  (Read more about the story here.)

Via Helen Oster’s Twitter feed.

June 21st, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Into the Half-Life

Into the Half-Life from Donald Weber on Vimeo.

In this piece by Donald Weber photographs, video and quotations from residents of Zholtye Vody, Ukraine, combine to tell the story of a community crippled by health issues related to mining and enriching uranium for use in weapons of mass destruction. Weber recently received a national magazine award in Canada for his photo essay on Zholtye Vody, which was published in The Walrus.

A member of VII Network, Weber is currently at work on a book, and on July 21 and 22, Weber will be teaching two grant writing workshops in Berlin. Weber estimates that he’s won $178,000 in grants supporting his work over the past five years. For more information visit: http://donaldweber.tumblr.com/.

June 17th, 2011

LOOK3 2011 Recap: Photographers and Other Fest-Goers Discuss the Highlights

As the 2011 edition of LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph came to a close, PDN asked a number of attendees what they would remember about the festival, which took place June 9–11 in Charlottesville, VA. Curated by New York Times Magazine director of photography Kathy Ryan and VII The Magazine editor Scott Thode, the festival provided photographers and photo industry professionals a number of insights courtesy of the featured artists, as well as a chance to meet with peers and make new connections.

“The same thing that’s drawing us back year after year is still present here, which is this incredible community of young photographers,” said photographer Matt Eich, a member of LUCEO Images, the collective that organized an exhibition and a pair of social events at the festival. Eich honeymooned with his wife at LOOK3 in 2007. “This is like my extended family,” he says. “It’s like a reunion because it’s not so much about the business side of things, it’s about the community and people coming together and trying to push one another forward. I think that’s what keeps this pure and fun, and keeps people coming back.” (more…)

June 15th, 2011

LOOK3 2011: A Defining Moment for LaToya Ruby Frazier

At this year’s LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, VA, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier made her intentions as an artist and activist clear in a powerful presentation of her work that combined diaristic snippets about her relationships with her grandmother and mother with stories about the community of Braddock, PA, where she was raised. Frazier’s reading, reminiscent of a prose poem, was intensely personal, heartfelt and, at times, forceful and defiant, drawing on the history of Braddock as a once-prosperous steel town, and on its current state where poverty, joblessness and pollution-related health issues plague the largely African-American population.

Frazier’s work has previously been included in high-profile group exhibitions such as the 2009 Triennial at The New Museum and a 2010 group exhibition at PS1 MoMA, and she has had solo and two-person shows at her gallery, Higher Pictures in New York, and elsewhere. The work she has presented thus far has been comprised primarily of self-portraits and portraits of her grandmother and mother, whom Frazier taught to photograph and considers a collaborator. Yet the full breadth of her work and her ambition for it has not been widely known, she says.

“Until I spoke today, I don’t think people were aware of what the work was about, because it’s complicated,” Frazier told PDN after her Master’s Talk. “Today was a huge breakthrough to be able to come here and talk to people.” (more…)

June 11th, 2011

LOOK3 2011: Med Co BD Hosts Conversation On Global Health Photo Opportunities

Medical equipment company BD hosted a conversation at LOOK3 this morning about the the opportunities that exist in the global health industry for photographers who wish to make a difference in that field.

At the breakfast conversation led by MaryAnne Golon, which took place adjacent to a gallery where BD was exhibiting prints from its first Hope For a Healthy World photo competition, photographers in the audience were urged to consider specializing in global health issues and were given several practical tips on how to create projects that would appeal to a global health industry that is thirsty for images to use in their advertising, advocacy and communications efforts.

Golon, who consults with BD on their visual communications, pointed out that there is room for a subset of photographers focused on global health to grow, develop and find funding for work, an assertion echoed by BD representatives who attended the talk. “It’s not about selling their sickness,” Golon said. “It’s about raising awareness [for the health issues people face].”

Coalition-building—finding multiple supporters among NGOs, healthcare companies and other interested parties, from equipment and travel sponsors to individual donors who are passionate about a particular issue—is a major part of what photographers need to do to fund and distribute their work, said Miki Johnson, who works on communications for the photography crowd-funding site Emphas.is.

Mischa Friedman, a photographer who teaches a class on collaborating with NGOs at the International Center of Photography, encouraged photographers “to ask NGOs what their issues are this year” as a way to find relevant stories to tell. He also said photographers should find focused, manageable stories to tell, rather than trying for broad or general topics.

Carlos Cazalis, who received an award for Best Global Health image in the BD competition for an image of a Hatian Cholera patient, told the audience that getting model releases and the names and ages of subjects they photograph were essential to selling images to NGOs and healthcare companies.

Later Cazalis urged photographers to realize the added value they can offer NGOs and healthcare companies by providing them information from the field. Photographers often get close to and spend time with their subjects, and what they learn can be a great source of information for potential clients and partners.

Golon pointed out that though a photographer might be able to write eloquently about a project for which they are seeking funding, they need to be able to show images to a potential supporter or sponsor. A photographer may want to photograph a health issue in Senegal, but they can likely find local people in the US affected by a health problem and photograph them as a way to begin exploring an issue and creating photographs that can be used to apply for further funding. A case in point, she said, is photographer Justin Maxon’s work documenting a community outside Philadelphia that suffers from high cancer rates and no access to healthcare.

Friedman later pointed out that photographers’ “task is to go beyond clichés” to engage viewers, something harsh images from foreign locales sometimes don’t allow, because they can be difficult for a general audience to relate to or look at.

June 10th, 2011

LOOK3 2011: Ashley Gilbertson On War, PTSD and His Project Bedrooms of the Fallen

At a Master’s Talk this afternoon at the LOOK3 festival in Charlottesville, VA, Ashley Gilbertson talked passionately about his project, “Bedrooms of the Fallen,” which depicts the rooms of soldiers from coalition countries such as the United States, France and Scotland who were killed at war.

He credited a talk Eugene Richards gave three years ago at LOOK3 with giving him the idea for the project. Richards had shown photographs he’d taken of his dying father; one in particular, of a dress shirt hanging in his father’s bedroom, stood out to both Gilbertson and to his wife, who also heard Richards’ talk.

After working on assignments in Iraq, Gilbertson had been “dwelling on death and what it meant to die at war,” partly because he felt responsible for a soldier who had been killed while escorting Gilbertson to make a photograph in a minaret during the siege of Fallujah. The “Bedrooms of the Fallen” project gave him a way to connect viewers to the lives of the young men and women lost in war, and to glimpse some of the impact those losses have on the families left behind.

Gilbertson also spoke forcefully and eloquently about post-traumatic stress and the country’s need to do more for the 2.5 million people among us who have been to war and come home. His grandfather suffered from PTSD and it destroyed mother’s family, he told the crowd. Understanding how war does this to people was the reason he wanted to photograph war. Gilbertson says he got his answer, but adds, “I wish I had never gone.”

Gilbertson says he often works from a feeling of anger. His strong feelings about how the government is taking care of soldiers with PTSD led him to create a body of work about a Colorado town that was particularly hard hit when soldiers who had returned from war hurt and killed several citizens and other soldiers. He shot landscape images at locations where the crimes were committed. He also showed portraits of people who had lost children or spouses to PTSD-related suicides.

He also showed portraits of soldiers in their civilian clothing, a project he developed to illustrate how they live among us.

A television network, he said, had told him never to pitch them stories about PTSD again, because viewers change the channel when the subject is addressed. Photographers “have to find ways to tell stories in a way that people will pay attention to,” he said.

June 9th, 2011

VII Dissolves Network, Announces New Mentors

VII Photo Agency will dissolve the VII Network in October 2011 in order to “enlarge its core membership giving all members equal access to the agency’s services and offering clients full-service support for all photographers on the VII roster,” the agency announced. The decision was made at the agency’s recent general meeting.

The Network photographers—Lynsey Addario, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, Eric Bouvet, Andrea Bruce, Stefano De Luigi, Venetia Dearden, Jessica Dimmock, Tivadar Domaniczky, Adam Ferguson, Ziyah Gafic, Ashley Gilbertson, Benedicte Kurzen, Seamus Murphy, Maciek Nabrdalik, Tomas van Houtryve and Donald Weber—have all been asked to apply for full membership with the agency.

“In the three and a half years since the VII Network was initiated we have been delighted and inspired by the energy and quality of work from our new colleagues,” said Ron Haviv, one of VII’s founders, in a statement. “This year marks the tenth anniversary of VII’s formation and it is a perfect time to fully embrace a new generation of curious and enterprising VII photographers who will help us steer the agency into the future.”

VII also announced two new additions to its Mentor program, which pairs young photojournalists with VII members to help them develop their work and careers. Beijing-based photographer Sim Chi Yin will be mentored by Marcus Bleasdale and Polish photographer Mikolaj Nowacki will work with Antonin Kratochvil.