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October 4th, 2013

If We Spend $25K On A Photo Essay, Readers Should Pay to See It, Says Harper’s Publisher

Harper’s publisher John R. MacArthur wrote a letter for the October issue of the magazine in which he took a strong stand against publishing free writing and photography on the web. He tackles the question of how journalism should be funded and distributed today, arguing that publishers, readers and journalists should reject the idea that good journalism should be given away for free in hopes of gaining page views. When he talks about good journalism, he includes good photography. (We’ve noted previously that Harper’s has become a great publisher of photography, winning National Magazine awards and other accolades.)

MacArthur says he has been distressed in recent years as publishers give away the work done by journalists and editors “in the quest for more advertising. Instead of honoring the reader, writer, and editor, this new approach to the publishing business instead insulted them,” MacArthur writes, “both by devaluing their work and by feeding it—with little or no remuneration—to search engines, which in turn feed information to advertising agencies (and, as it turns out, the government.)”

MacArthur says advocates of free content are peddling “nonsense.” “Who needs fact-checkers when we have crowdsourcing to correct the record? Why doesn’t Harper’s give away a particularly good investigative piece… so more people will read it?”

He also has the temerity to suggest that publishers, journalists and editors “have to earn a living.” He singles out a recent photo essay by an anonymous photographer, who risked arrest and imprisonment to report from inside Iran. The assignment cost the magazine $25,000, MacArthur says. “Shouldn’t Anonymous be paid for this courage and skill?” MacArthur asks. “Shouldn’t Harper’s be compensated for sending Anonymous into the field?”

“It is unreasonable to expect that an advertiser would directly sponsor such daring photography,” MacArthur writes. “It is wishful thinking to believe that parasitic Google, now bloated with billions of dollars’ worth of what I consider pirated property, will ever willingly pay Harper’s, or Anonymous, anything at all for the right to distribute Anonymous’s pictures…”

MacArthur will hopefully forgive us for quoting him at length on our blog, which is not behind a paywall. Those who want to read the rest of his statement, and see Michael Christopher Brown‘s fantastic photographs from Libya, or Misty Keasler‘s touching images accompanying a report about a controversial Montana orphanage for Russian children, will have to pick up the magazine on the newsstand, or subscribe for $20, about twice what I will probably spend on lunch today.

September 12th, 2013

Are Women Photographers Being Discriminated Against in the Editorial Market?

A week ago editorial photographer and artist Daniel Shea published a post on his Tumblr, titled “On Sexism in Editorial Photography,” hoping it would “initiate a broader conversation.” Shea began the post with the disclaimer that he is “a white, cis male photographer” who didn’t claim to speak for anyone but himself, before pointing out that, to him, “It would seem that the biggest magazines with the most hiring power hire mostly male photographers.”

The post has generated nearly 550 likes and reblogs on Tumblr, as well as a number of comments.

Without naming names, Shea cites informal conversations with photo editors who offered some interesting explanations as to why a gender imbalance might exist. Some editors said they didn’t know women photographers whose esthetic fit with their magazines. “To further complicate this issue,” Shea continues, “one editor mentioned that most media, art and literature is made to fit a masculine perspective, and perhaps that’s why men are more ‘apt’ at photographing that content.”

Shea notes also that most photo editors are women; one editor floated the idea that women are “natural nurturers” of men. Shea says he’s “skeptical” of that explanation. Instead, he suggests other reasons. One is that sexism in editorial photography is a microcosm. “Larger systems of oppression, like sexism and misogyny, replicate themselves very effectively on smaller scales,” Shea wrote. (more…)

September 11th, 2013

Video Pick: Chris Buck And Jimmy Fallon Get Surprise on Shoot for Variety

When we interviewed Chris Buck last year about his book Presence, which features a series of images in which a famous person is present in the frame of a picture but is invisible to the viewer, Buck told us that one of the secrets to his ability to deliver interesting editorial images is his lack of awe while working with celebs. “I’m definitely not precious about famous people,” Buck told PDN. “I’m making pictures for my clients and for the audience, and not for the subject.”

In this behind-the-scenes video of Buck photographing Jimmy Fallon for Variety we get to see Buck in action, convincing the late night host to work pretty hard for the camera. Check it out, and make sure you watch until the end. Turns out Buck isn’t the only one who is unfazed in the presence of a celebrity.

Related: Hide and Seek: Chris Buck’s Conceptual Celebrity Portraits

August 21st, 2013

From Twitter to TIME: An Egyptian Photojournalist Finds His Voice Amid Violence

A difficult reality of photojournalism is that photographers often define their careers by covering conflict. Egyptian photojournalist Mosa’ab Elshamy is the latest example. Elshamy began photographing as a citizen journalist during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt in 2011, when he documented demonstrations against then-President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Two and a half-years later, he’s made the transition from being an amateur to being a photojournalist who is watched by top photo editors and a nearly 40,000-strong Twitter following.

Elshamy’s work in Egypt, and from Gaza during the 2012 war there, has been published by the likes of The Economist and Harper’s among others, and he’s won awards in the Egypt International Photography Contest and Arab Union of Photographers competition. Yet during the last few weeks his photos of Egypt’s descent into violence, particularly his images of the clearing of a pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa at the end of July, have earned him the cover of The New York Times and bylines for TIME International and AlJazeera English, among other publications.

Patrick Witty, international picture editor of TIME, says he first heard about Elshamy’s work on Twitter at the end of July. “After the massacre at Rabaa Square on July 27, someone I follow tweeted about a picture he made,” Witty told PDN in an email. “I tracked it back to his Flickr account and reached out to him.” (more…)

August 14th, 2013

Newsweek: An Autopsy (And an Ex-Photo Editor’s Lament)

Newsweek-Autopsy-CoverA new exhibition co-curated by Marion Durand, a Newsweek photo editor and James Wellford, former senior photo editor who left Newsweek last year, celebrates some of the magazine’s achievements in visual storytelling, and also features images that were never published.  On display through September at Cortona on the Move, the photo festival in Tuscany, Italy, “Newsweek: An Autopsy” mixes magazine covers, framed prints and layouts from both the US and international editions of Newsweek from the past 12 years, and offers a window into editorial decision making. In a very candid interview, published in www.emahomagazine.com, Wellford talks about the exhibition and the “painful experience” of being unable to rally interest in serious photo essays. He says he was frustrated by the lack of support even before Newsweek became what he calls a “pamphlet” that covered more personality journalism than hard news. “There’s a lot of compromise,” he says.

Wellford says the problem was partly due to the downturn in print advertising, and Newsweek’s lack of subscription revenue, which meant  “the ability of the magazine to produce pages…and support writers and photographers went down the drain.” But he also talks about much earlier incidents when, according to Wellford, Newsweek failed to support photographers in the field.

In 1994, when Wellford was freelancing for the magazine, for example, he says the magazine supported several photographers who were covering the genocide in Rwanda, including Gilles Peress. “But the fact that you support it doesn’t mean that the magazine is going to run it, because remember the appetite for showing harshness constantly compromises the conversation in the newsroom.” He notes that at certain moments of history-making news, “It’s embarrassing what they were putting on the covers.”

He says, “The biggest regret was not being able to support people in perilous situations.” When photographer Laurent Van der Stockt, who was then a contract photographer with Newsweek, traveled on his own to Fallujah, Iraq, the site of two bloody battles of the Iraq war, Wellford wanted to “make sure he was secure.” However, he says, “someone came up to me at Newsweek” and asked first if Van der Stockt was there on an assignment from Newsweek, and was then “relieved” to learn he wasn’t – so Newsweek didn’t act to ensure his safety. When Teru Kuwayama, working in Pakistan on assignment for the magazine, was injured in a car accident in which the driver was killed instantly, Wellford says only people he knew in Pakistan and “friends of mine at The New York Times and CNN…kept an eye on him.” Wellford still doesn’t know what money Newsweek gave to the driver’s family. “I have never forgiven them for that,” he says.

Wellford connects the lack of concern for the welfare of magazine contributors to a lack of regard for journalism in general. “It was about morality and ethics,” he says.

“That to me has been lost, narcissism and the self seemed to take over. Of course you can’t generalize, but there seems to be no cumulative sense of making statements that in time, historically, will reflect on genuine concern for the world.”

The interview on emahomagazine.com includes a slide show of images by Alex Majoli, Paolo Pellegrin, Charles Omanney and other photographers in the show, as well as Wellford’s explanation of how he chooses to edit and assign photojournalists.

Related Articles

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July 26th, 2013

French Editor and Photographer Charged Over Topless Kate Middleton Photos

The editor of French Closer magazine and an unidentified photographer have been charged with violation of French privacy laws for their alleged role in the publication last September of topless pictures of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge (and now new mother of baby Prince George).

Last spring, Closer’s publisher and photographer Valerie Suau were charged in the case.

The Telegraph reports that Closer’s editor, Laurence Pieau, was charged earlier this month for her role in the publication of the photos, which show Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing topless while on vacation in France last September. Authorities did not announce the charges until yesterday. Pieau has defended her decision to publish the photos in various interviews, saying “I did my job as a journalist,” according to the report.

A third unnamed photographer may soon be charged as well, The Telegraph says.

Suau and Ernesto Mauri, the publisher of Closer, were charged in the case under France’s strict privacy laws last April. Suau has admitted taking images of the Duchess sunbathing topless, but Suau says the pictures she took were “all decent.”

Suau is suspected of having helped other photographers take topless pictures of the Duchess, according to The Telegraph report.

Kate Middleton and her husband, Prince William, have pressed authorities to charge Closer with “grotesque breach of privacy” and have gained public sympathy and support for their efforts, in part because of bitter memories of the death of William’s mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car crash in Paris in 1997. The driver of the car was intoxicated, but many people have blamed the princess’s death on the paparazzi, who were in pursuit of the car to get photos of Diana and her boyfriend when the crash occurred.

Related stories:
French Photog Could Go to Jail Over Topless Pictures
French Court Orders Magazine to Hand Over Topless Photos of Kate Middleton

 

July 18th, 2013

Startup Aims to Help Media License Amateur News Photos for $20 Apiece

An image sourced by CrowdMedia from a Twitter user who was on the tarmac at SFO during the Asiana Airlines crash was used in a gallery on Huffington Post.

© Huffington Post. An image sourced by CrowdMedia from Twitter user @mcc_maryland, whose plane was on the tarmac at SFO during the Asiana Airlines crash, was used in a gallery on Huffington Post.

A six-week-old company that connects media organizations to amateur photographers who have taken newsworthy photographs is creating some buzz, and could add yet another wrinkle to the market for news photography—one professional photographers and their photo agencies may not like.

CrowdMedia, the Montreal-based startup, uses a combination of an algorithm and a manual process to analyze more than 100 million images shared everyday via Twitter. The company identifies the .03% of these images that they consider valuable and newsworthy, reaches out to the creators via Twitter, and asks them to click a link if they would like to make their image available to media organizations. Once the creator of the photo creates an account, images are uploaded to the CrowdMedia platform, where media companies can find and purchase them for roughly $20 apiece, regardless of the usage.

Roldan says, “News outlets want [photos shared on social media] but it’s really cumbersome.” CrowdMedia promises to streamline the process, connecting editors directly to social media users.

CrowdMedia launched in June, shortly after the Chicago Sun-Times layed off its photo staff.

To read the full interview with CrowdMedia’s Roldan and learn more about the company’s pricing and functionality, see our full story, now on PDNOnline.

Related: Chicago Sun-Times Eliminates Photo Staff

July 15th, 2013

Hearing Set in Arrest of Aerial Photographer George Steinmetz

© National Geographic/Photo by George Steinmetz. A recent cover story for National Geographic shot by George Steinmetz.

© National Geographic/Photo by George Steinmetz. A recent cover story for National Geographic shot by George Steinmetz.

George Steinmetz, the National Geographic contributor known for the landscapes he captures from a motorized paraglider, faces a court hearing in Kansas this Thursday following his arrest on June 28 for criminal trespass after he flew over a cattle feedlot in Finney County, Kansas.

The Hutchinson News of Hutchinson. Kansas, reported last week that paragliding instructor Wei Zhang, who was waiting for Steinmetz by a parked SUV, was also arrested. Steinmetz and Zhang were held in jail for about five hours. They were released after paying a $270 bond.

Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue told the newspaper Steinmetz and Zhang did not have permission to be on the cattle ranch. A feedlot employee had contacted the sheriff’s office after seeing Steinmetz taking photos of the ranch from the air. The employee also reported “an unknown vehicle” on the property.

Steinmetz and Zhang had moved by the time officers arrived, the paper reports, but “feedlot executives” wanted them arrested.

Although a Finney County attorney said in a statement that the charges are not about Steinmetz’s right to take pictures, Kansas and other states have criminalized unauthorized photography of farming operations. Under the Kansas law, it is illegal for a person to enter an animal facility that is not open to the public to take pictures or video.

Agri-business interests have lobbied for such laws to stop negative publicity about factory farming by PETA, a leading animal rights organization, and other groups.

Steinmetz was on assignment for National Geographic, shooting a story on food, at the time of his arrest. “National Geographic intends to provide counsel for George and his assistant in defense of the charges,” a National Geographic spokesperson says.

An attorney for the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA), a lobbying group for cattle ranchers, told the Hutchinson News that Steinmetz’s arrest was a reminder to his organization’s members to be alert to “unauthorized and suspicious activity.” “Everyone knows safe food starts with healthy animals,” the KLA attorney said. “We have to have those animals healthy in order to produce a safe food supply.”
–David Walker

Update July 18: At a scheduling hearing held today, a Finney County court judge set another hearing on August 29, 2013 for Steinmetz and Zhang. A local attorney hired by National Geographic to represent them appeared on their behalf at today’s hearing, a spokesperson for the publisher told PDN.

Related articles
Agribusiness Pressing States to Criminalize Photographs of Farms

PDN Photo of the Day: George Steinmetz, Up in the Air

June 18th, 2013

Pop-up Shop Brings Indie Photo Books to Brooklyn Subway Travelers

Photo courtesy ALLDAYEVERYDAY

Photo courtesy ALLDAYEVERYDAY

If you’re riding on the New York City subway and happen to notice photo books and ‘zines replacing iPads or free newspapers in the hands of your fellow passengers, this may be why: This past Saturday a subway newsstand at the Metropolitan Avenue subway station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opened as a temporary shop featuring independent photography and art books produced by a handful of well-respected small publishers.

Aptly called The Newsstand, the store is put together by creative firm ALLDAYEVERYDAY in partnership with 8-Ball, a ‘zine fair created by photo editor and curator Lele Saveri.

The shop will be open through July 20th, from 9am-8pm on weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends, which is probably a good idea given the level of pawing the books would be subjected to by the Williamsburg weekend night crowd. Participating publishers, artists and bookstores include:

Desert Island books
Dashwood Books
Ed Varie
Jason Polan
Hamburger Eyes
Nowork
Miniature Garden
MOSSLESS
Pau Wau Publications
Peradam
Swill Children
Rumore Nero
Toilet Paper Magazine
Karma
Dan Murphy Zines

The shop also has a selection of magazines put together by McNally Jackson bookstore in Manhattan, and a selection of music from Co-Op 87 record store in Brooklyn.

The Newsstand is accessible by both L and G subway lines.

May 20th, 2013

NY Times Public Editor Questions T Magazine Photoshopping Policy

In an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the newspaper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, questioned the rules regarding Photoshopping at T, the monthly style magazine published by the Times, and suggested that readers should be notified when fashion images have been digitally manipulated. She also pointed out that editors shouldn’t assume that readers understand the difference between the standards for a news photograph and a fashion photograph.

Responding to comments last week from readers that a T cover model was too skinny, T editor Deborah Needleman told Sullivan that T editors had considered “adding fat” to the model using Photoshop.

Another Times reporter called the comment “jaw-dropping” because journalistic standards would never allow for photography manipulation.

Drawing on comments from other Times picture editors including Michelle McNally of The Times and Kathy Ryan of The New York Times Magazine, Sullivan affirmed the Times’ photography standards: “The Times does not stage news photographs, or alter them digitally.” Except, Sullivan noted, in T‘s case, where it’s deemed acceptable to alter fashion and glamour photography. The assumption being that readers are aware that fashion and glamour is a “different genre of photography,” and therefore the Times’ obligation to those readers is different.

“It would be best if all the photography produced by the Times newsroom could be held to the same standard,” Sullivan wrote. But, she said, if fashion photography must exist as its own world of assumed fantasy, there should be a disclaimer for readers.

Is it realistic to expect that the Times could hold fashion photography to the same standards as news photography? Do readers need to be told that fashion images aren’t “real?”