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January 25th, 2011

Tim Hetherington Film Nominated for Oscar

“Restrepo,” the documentary co-directed and co-produced by photographer Tim Hetherington and writer Sebastian Junger, has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. The nominations for the 2011 Oscars were announced this morning in Los Angeles.

“Restrepo,” which tells the story of a platoon living and fighting in a forward operating base in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary. It was released in theaters in 2010 and was also broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.

Last year’s Best Documentary Oscar went to “The Cove,” a documentary directed by photographer Louie Psihoyos, about dolphin hunting in Japan.

December 23rd, 2010

PDN Video Pick: Dan Saelinger’s Popsicles

This short piece by Dan Saelinger plays with the visual possibilities of melting popsicles. Created as a test, the video expanded on the concept of one of Saelinger’s still-life photographs.

Popsicles from Dan Saelinger on Vimeo.

If you have a video you would like us to consider for PDN’s Video Picks, just send a link to

December 21st, 2010

PDN Video Pick: George Simhoni’s “Manimbaphone”

Looking to add video production to his business offering, Toronto-based advertising photographer George Simhoni set out to create a narrative video that might also do some good. He teamed up with a friend, creative director Peter Holmes at Reason Partners, who came up with a concept of a tongue-in-cheek, stay-in-school PSA.

George Simhoni – Manimbaphone from Westside Studio on Vimeo.

If you have a video you would like us to consider for PDN’s Video Picks, just send a link to

December 21st, 2010

Photographer Seamus Murphy Directs PJ Harvey Video

We don’t know about you but we wish more rock videos were like “The Last Living Rose” from PJ Harvey. Directed by photographer Seamus Murphy and featuring still and moving images he shot during a 5,000-mile road trip around England, the video is beautiful, evocative, and a fitting showcase for Harvey’s loose, poetic, and rockin’ new tune.

According to Harvey’s website, it’s the first of 12 films from Murphy that will showcase the 12 new songs on her new record, “Let England Shake.”

Looking forward to seeing the next 11.

(Via Dangerous Minds.)

November 17th, 2010

Amazon: Win Money! Get Your Movie Made! Forfeit Your Rights!!

Online mega-retailer Amazon is calling all aspiring screen writers and film directors  to submit their screen plays and productions for cash prizes in monthly contests. The catch? Amazon can rent, sell, license and otherwise distribute the works without sharing the proceeds. But the rights transfer terms are buried deep in the fine print.

The crowd-sourcing initiative is called Amazon Studios, which is holding a monthly contest with cash prizes to encourage submissions. Amazon Studios will show the winning projects to Warner Bros. Pictures “for possible consideration as theatrical feature films.” Or, as Amazon Studios boils it all down in their advertising: “Win money. Get Noticed. Get your movie made.”

Amazon says it will give out two $20,000 awards for the best scripts it receives each month, and $100,000 to the director of the best movie that’s at least 70 minutes long.

But the company isn’t up front about rights transfer, which isn’t mentioned in the contest rules. Instead, it’s buried inside a “development agreement” that the contest rules mention in passing.

The development agreement is written in convoluted legalese. But here’s what is says, in a nutshell: Whenever you submit an original work–screenplay or movie–you grant Amazon a non-exclusive license to sell, rent, stream, copy, or transfer that work to third parties forever, without any compensation. For the first 18 months, Amazon has the exclusive right to do all that, plus the option to make revisions of your work–by turning it into a movie for theatrical release, say. If they decide to exercise that option, they will pay you $200,000. But that’s all you get, unless the movie grosses at least $60,000,000 at the box office. For that, you’d get a $400,000 bonus payment, or 0.6 percent.

And one last thing: if someone else sees your original work on Amazon’s site, makes a revision of it, and submits that revision to another Amazon contest, Amazon owns the revision free and clear. “It would just be too complicated to divide up rights between contributors of revisions,” Amazon explains in the development agreement.

October 22nd, 2010

Chris McCaw’s Crazy DIY Large-Format Cameras

Ever want to build your own camera? Photographer Chris McCaw did just that and he went big, creating a 30×40-inch bellows camera mounted in a garden wagon and one with a 125-pound aerial lens attached to a wheelchair. McCaw uses the cameras to shoot heavily solarized images that are part of his “Sunburn” series.

Instead of film, McCaw places silver gelatin paper into the film holders of his DIY cameras and leaves them open for long periods of time. The sun burns the paper in the process — sometimes creating holes — and inverts the image from a negative to a positive.

McCaw seems to have as much fun creating the cameras as he does creating the images. Here’s what he told the photo-eye:

“Building my own camera was a really liberating process as a photographer. Sometimes you get into that rut of having big dreams of owning high-end camera gear. The reality is that if you use your imagination and a practical sense of what you want to accomplish, you can do most anything. I feel confident that I can pretty much make any camera I need (I’m currently up to 30×40″ mounted on a garden wagon). I also just made one on the base of a wheelchair to hold a 125 lb aerial camera lens!

The wheelchair camera (my friends call it ‘the sad robot’) was just built last month. So far it is only an 8×10″ camera, but it has a 600mm f/3.5 lens that projects an image about 16×20″. I was told the lens came off a U2 spy plane — it is a beast. I use a car jack to raise and lower the lens. I even needed to get a handicap ramp to get it into the van!”

Read more at the photo-eye blog.

(From The Stupid Photographer via Colin Pantall’s blog.)

October 13th, 2010

Eddie Adams Barnstorm Celebrates New Media

At the 23rd annual Eddie Adams Workshop, which took place over Columbus Day weekend, speakers frequently referenced the many ways

Eddie Adams Workshop barnstorm, Lung Liu

Award winner Lung Liu at the Workshop's closing night.. © Landon Nordeman

still photographers of the past are transitioning into visual journalists of the future.  The rustic farm in Jeffersonville, New York, where the workshop takes place may have sparse cell phone service, but technologies like the iPad and DSLRs that shoot HD video were in use and discussed throughout the weekend.

In a first for the Barnstorm, the Saturday evening line up of speakers included a motion picture producer. Michael Hausman, the producer of films such as Amadeus, Brokeback Mountain, The Firm and Gangs of New York, showed two clips to illustrate how digital video capture is changing filmmaking. He first showed a clip from The Firm, a Hollywood movie shot with 35 mm Panavision cameras and lenses, which cost more than forty million dollars to make; his second clip was shot with the Red camera and a Canon 5D.

He noted, “When I started you couldn’t make a film without 250 of your closest union buddies. Today we made a film for $40,000 with the Red camera and the Canon 5D.”

September 30th, 2010

MoMA’s New Photography 25 Opens; Includes Film For First Time

The Museum of Modern Art’s 25th annual New Photography exhibition opened yesterday, featuring the work of Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry, Alex Prager and Amanda Ross-Ho.

The exhibition, which each year highlights some of contemporary photography’s most interesting voices, includes short films by Lassry and Prager, the first films that have appeared in a New Photography show.

In her curatorial statement, MoMA photography curator Roxana Marcoci writes that the four artists she selected “engage in a kind of post-appropriative practice.” Though each artist appropriates images and ideas to create their photographs (and films), they do so for different reasons than Richard Prince did when he rephotographed ads in the Seventies to question “notions of originality.”

“This younger group of artists reinvest in photographic authorship, creating pictures that often exist simultaneously as commercial assignment and artwork,” Marcoci says.

Roe Ethridge’s contribution to the show includes a collage in which he lays an enlarged and pixilated image of a Crate & Barrel plate taken from their Web site over the top corner of an image of a checkered Comme de Garçons scarf; an enlarged image from The New York Times of a model at a Chanel fashion show; and a photograph of objects in his studio that includes a red bag plastic bag, a second-hand framed photo of a sailboat and a zoom lens.

Comme des Garçons Scarf with Glass Plate. 2010

© 2010 Roe Ethridge. Comme des Garçons Scarf with Glass Plate. Courtesy the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.

Elad Lassry presents his images as small prints in frames whose colors correspond to those found in the image. In one work a vintage image of Goldie Hawn and a golden retriever is placed above a series of color-laminated wood blocks that vaguely resemble a TV test pattern. In Lassry’s silent film, Untitled (2009), which he shows at the same small size as his images, actor Eric Stoltz and an actress recreate a scene of director/choreographer Jerome Robbins instructing actress Mary Martin on a flying scene for the 1955 television adaptation of Peter Pan.

Elad Lassry Wall 2008

© 2010 Elad Lassry. Wall. 2008. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. Courtesy David Kordansky Gallery.

Alex Prager’s work borrows heavily from vintage cinema. Her bold color images of young women in wigs and period costumes evoke Alfred Hitchcock and film noir. Her film, “Despair,” in which one such woman throws herself from a window is based on the 1948 film “The Red Shoes,” about a ballerina who kills herself.

Alex Prager Despair 2010

© 2010 Alex Prager. Despair. 2010. Courtesy the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Amanda Ross-Ho’s work includes collages and photographs of hand-drilled sheet rock installations hung with found and/or appropriated images and other objects. One of her sheet-rock installations is included in the show.

Amanda Ross-Ho

© 2010 Amanda Ross-Ho. Expose for the Shadows, Develop for the Highlights (Perforated Sampler) [installation view

Appropriation of popular images (i.e. images meant for mass consumption), and references to films, existing images and image styles, play a role in the work of each of these artists. Still, Marcoci believes they are “post-appropriation,” because their motivations are different than previous artists who rephotographed or reused the work of others to call attention to their own ideas.

The artists in New Photography 25 appear to share a curatorial, or editorial, impulse. They absorb images and references and place them together with their own photography create an order from the mass of images we’re bombarded with in contemporary society.

June 29th, 2010

Photojournalist and Filmmaker Win Settlement From London Police

A photojournalist and filmmaker received £3,500 ($5,280) each in an out-of-court settlement with the London police after the pair were prevented from documenting a protest at the Greek embassy in 2008, The Guardian reported today.

A film of the incident posted on the news organization’s Web site shows police grabbing photojournalist Marc Vallée’s camera and covering the lens of Jason Parkinson’s video camera. The journalists were then forcibly removed from the scene so they could not document the police’s treatment of the protesters, who were demonstrating against a police shooting

The settlement announcement comes on the heels of news from Toronto that a pair of photojournalists were arrested and held for 24 hours as police there rounded up people protesting at the G20 summit.

June 14th, 2010

At LOOKbetween, A Discussion of Video and Multimedia Storytelling

Photographers and photo industry professionals who attended the LOOKbetween festival over the past weekend at Deep Rock Farm near Charlottesville, VA, participated in small, informal group discussions on Saturday morning that addressed three topics: The Business: From Individual to Agency; Storytelling Techniques: From Film to Video; and Publishing: From Book to iPad.

The shift to video being explored by many photographers was one of the major themes of a Storytelling Techniques discussion of which I was a part. And of course one of the primary questions about photographers creating video was, “Who is going to fund the work?”