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April 13th, 2012

Lawsuit Raises Questions About Francesco Scavullo’s Archives and Foundation

A lawsuit filed by a disgruntled business partner of late fashion and celebrity photographer Francesco Scavullo has cast a spotlight on a charitable foundation that he established prior to his death in 2004, raising questions about the condition of Scavullo’s archive and the foundation’s fulfillment of its obligations under Scavullo’s will. Court papers and IRS filings suggest the foundation–which was supposed to keep Scavullo’s legacy alive–has gone dormant.

Philadelphia-based Motion Picture Group, a marketing group established before Scavullo’s death to help the photographer promote and license his archives, has sued the New York-based Francesco Scavullo Foundation for breach of oral contract in federal court in Philadelphia. MPG is seeking more than $150,000 in compensation for marketing efforts that it says it undertook on behalf of the foundation under informal agreements prior to an acrimonious split earlier this year. (more…)

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 19th, 2012

John Midgley’s Altered Image: Reasonable Caution, or Outrageous Censorship?

©John Midgley

Have the morality police chilled artistic expression, or does this image by John Midgley–which appears on an APA promo for a talk by the fashion and celebrity photographer–violate the standards of public decency without the alteration?

Midgley is scheduled to give a talk called “Memory: Journey’s of Fiction and Fantasy” at the Apple Store at 7 p.m. today. The talk is part of the Image Maker Lecture Series sponsored by APA New York, and Midgley provided the image, undoctored, so APA could promote his talk via e-mail blasts.

According to Midgley, APA New York regional director Jocelyn Zucker told him the image wasn’t acceptable because of the boy’s nudity. “We might shock someone with a naked little boy’s penis, or do some other greater damage,” says Midgley, apologizing for his cynicism. He adds, “The puritanism drives me a little crazy sometimes.”

Zucker says, “As per our agreement with Apple, all lectures and the images presented must be ‘family friendly’ – no nudity or swearing, etc. This is not a concern on APA’s behalf; we would enjoy being able to present more controversial content, however, the Apple lectures are not the proper venue. John made the decision to use that image and censor it, rather than select a different image for the promo.”

Midgley ended up not only covering the boy’s penis, but defacing his own image.

“It wasn’t really meant to be a form of protest, it was ‘Well, if I censor the offending bits could that work?’” he explains. “So I did it quickly and in hindsight, badly. Next thing I know it’s up there [in an APA promotion.] And in a way I think subconsciously I was so pissed that it is a form of protest. It [the objection to nudity] is ridiculous and so is the censorship I imposed.”

Information about Midgley’s talk this evening is posted here (without the image) on APA’s web site.

March 1st, 2012

Photo Editor Explains How Vintage Photos Lead the New York Times Onto Tumblr

Earlier this week The New York Times made its first foray onto Tumblr with The Lively Morgue, which showcases vintage photographs from the newspaper’s print archive, which is known as “the morgue” for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, according to the Times.

“[Launching a Tumblr blog] made sense for a lot of reasons,” says deputy photo editor Meaghan Looram, who was one of several Times staffers who worked on the project. “Obviously Tumblr is a super visual platform and on top of that, from what I understand, vintage photography is really popular on Tumblr.”

In addition to showing the scans of vintage photographic prints, The Lively Morgue’s custom design also allows viewers to inspect the backs of the prints, where they can see editors’ markings, original captions and other information about the images, and the way the newsroom trafficked and filed them.

“For someone that’s not interested in that level of detail they can appreciate the fronts of the images,” Looram notes, “but I think [showing the backs of the prints] gives the project a really nice level of sophistication and added value. And for people that are interested in photo archiving or photo history or the history of the paper, I think it’s just a really interesting level of detail.”

Through its first few days, the Times‘ Tumblr has featured photographs from the 1930s, 50s, 60s and 70s, ranging in subject matter from sports to fashion to crime. As of Wednesday night, the blog already had roughly 10,000 followers, Looram says. Several of the images had hundreds of notes and reblogs.

Looram notes there is some concern over the amount of control the Times is relinquishing, because Tumblr allows for rapid sharing and dissemination of content. To encourage people who like the images they see on Tumblr to buy prints, The Lively Morgue features a link to a Times store where prints can be ordered. “In a lot of cases these are prints that you can buy through our store, so we’re hoping that people will do that,” Looram explains. “But I think that that’s something that we have to be concerned about even with images on our Web site.”

Though The Lively Morgue links to a print store, Looram says the project was “primarily motivated by an interest in editorially getting these images seen, and also finding an appropriate foray for us into Tumblr.”

The project, which was based on a series of posts picture editor Darcy Eveleigh created on the Times‘ photojournalism blog, Lens, originated with Heena Koh, a member of the Times’ digital design team, and Alexis Mainland, the social media editor. Looram says everyone working on it is doing it “in addition to their own duties” because they are excited about the platform and the opportunity to share the archive.

The social media success of the Lens blog, and of the Times‘ photography in general, also generated energy, Looram says. “I think we’re very encouraged by the popularity of the Lens blog and the amount of sharing in social networks about our photography and photography that we’re highlighting, so that’s definitely encouraging to us and probably was a good indicator for the level of interest we would see in a project like The Lively Morgue.”

February 24th, 2012

Penelope Tree, Muse to Avedon, Models Again

© Mario Sorrenti for Barney's

Penelope Tree, who first modeled for Richard Avedon in 1966, is back, appearing in a new fashion campaign for Barney’s shot by Mario Sorrenti. This week’s installment of Who’s Shooting What has details on the campaign, the creative director behind it, and the other fashion personalities being featured. PDN Pulse would just add that at age 62, Tree looks great.

Vogue editor Diana Vreeland spotted Tree at Truman Capote’s famous Black and White ball in 1966, and asked her to model for Richard Avedon and later for David Bailey, who soon after ditched wife Catherine Deneuve and became Tree’s companion for eight years.

(Wow, there were a lot of Sixties icons packed into that sentence.)

Tree’s look ushered in a new, waifish look in models. Bailey told PDN in a Legends Online interview, “I think she changed a generation of young American girls.” Funny, now we look at photos of Tree from the Sixties or today, and she looks quite healthy compared to the anorexic models we’re now used to seeing. Tree has other assets besides her unusual looks. A student of Buddhism, she has been a patron of a charity which supports women’s groups in Cambodia. She was also, as Bailey told PDN, “Bright, bright, bright, bright.”

Related article:

Who’s Shooting What

February 10th, 2012

Model Defamation Case Dismissed Against Jason Lee Parry

A federal court in New York has dismissed a $28 million defamation lawsuit against photographer Jason Lee Parry on a legal technicality: He’s a California resident, the court said, so he’s not subject to jurisdiction under New York law.

The case was brought last year by the parents of a model who posed for Parry in a March 2010 fashion shoot at the age of 15. One of the images shows the model, Hailey Clauson, sitting on a motorcycle with her legs splayed and her crotch in the center of the frame. That image ended up on t-shirts sold by Urban Outfitters and other retailers. Clauson’s parents claimed that Parry failed to obtain a signed model release, and did not receive permission to license the images of their daughter. According to the lawsuit, the image on the t-shirt—and others produced on the shoot—defames the model.

In dismissing the case against Parry, the court said “he did not conduct business in New York, he did not commit a [harmful] act in New York, or commit a [harmful] act outside of New York which caused injury in New York” that would subject him to the state’s “long arm” statute.

Urban Outfitters and Blood Is the New Black, a t-shirt manufacturer, remain as defendants in the case, however.

Parry said in an interview with A Photo Editor in December that the model’s agent and father approved the treatment prior to the shoot.

“The model’s father was present for a majority of the shoot. He was shown photos while on set and sanctioned them long before they were published,” Parry told A Photo Editor. He went on to speculate that once the image in question showed up on t-shirts at Urban Outfitters, the parents decided to sue because it was an opportunity to get money “as well as create buzz for their daughter.”

Related:
Underage Model’s $28 Million Suit Against Photog Likely to Hinge on Model Release

January 18th, 2012

4 Useful Lessons from La Redoute’s Nude Man Fiasco

Was the photographer blind, inattentive, or just following the, ah, brief?

Somewhere, a photographer has been scolded–or worse–for a catalogue image that embarrassed his or her client.

The image in question, for La Redoute, a French clothing company, shows happy kids frolicking on the beach in bathing suits–with a naked man emerging from the water in the background. The company removed the image from its Web site and apologized publicly after some shocked customers complained.

A BBC report about that apology notes that the error was “compounded by the fact that La Redoute provided a magnifying glass so that people could examine the beachwear close-up.”

This piece of news made the viral rounds a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps you’ve already heard about it. But we wanted to point out the silver lining: There are lessons to be learned from the unfortunate mistakes of others. In this case, they include:

–When location scouting for a kids’ catalogue shoot, avoid nude beaches.
–If someone on set says, “There’s a nude guy in the background, but we can fix that in post,” don’t just say, “Yeah, yeah” and forget about it.
–Have someone review your images for nude guys (and other glitches you’ve tuned out) before you send them to the client.

The magnifying glass raises pesky questions, though. Was the nude man really an error, we wonder? Or was he planted intentionally in a perverse kind of “Find Elmo” game–that came complete with a magnifying glass–in order to generate publicity for the company?

So that brings us to Lesson #4: If a client asks you to plant a nude guy in a catalogue image, go ahead and oblige them. Just ask them to leave your name out of it, so when they send their public apology to the BBC, it doesn’t look like you screwed up.

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

December 16th, 2011

The Biggest Photo News Stories of 2011

Over on PDNOnline we’ve gathered together the biggest photography news stories of 2011, a year marked infringements on the rights of photographers, by sticky legal cases whose results will be felt long into the future, and by tragedy. The 15 stories we highlighted were the most-read news articles and blog posts on PDNOnline and PDN Pulse this year.

Which of these stories do you think was the most important news story of the year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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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