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April 12th, 2013

Recap of the PDN’s 30: Strategies for Young Working Photogs Panel at SVA

During this week’s PDN’s 30 panel discussion at the School of Visual Arts Theatre, perseverance, personality and community emerged as common themes in the early careers of 2013 PDN’s 30 photographers Geordie Wood, Lisa Elmaleh and Bon Duke.

PDN editor Holly Stuart Hughes moderated the panel, which also included Readers Digest photo director Rebecca Simpson Steele and Sony Artisan of Imagery Brian Smith.

Wood, an editorial photographer who is also the photo editor at the Fader, said that he chose to assist rather than working an unrelated day job while he was starting out as a way to stay in the photo community. He also emphasized the importance to his career of a group of fellow photographers who share information, introduce one another to clients and exchange ideas in person and online. “Photography,” he said, “is much more fun as a team sport.”

When the bottom dropped out of the economy right after she graduated from SVA and she found herself out of work, Elmaleh, a fine-art photographer and teacher who works with alternative processes, asked friends in the photo community for leads and found work teaching carbon printing at the Center for Alternative Photography. She also assisted photographers Joni Sternbach and Mitch Epstein, before beginning to teach classes at SVA. “We really have to cobble it together,” Elmaleh said of making a living as a fine-art photographer.

Internships with magazines and production companies, and connections to fellow SVA student working in design or cinematography helped Duke, who does editorial and commercial fashion work and films, learn about different aspects of the creative business and make connections. Talking with design students, for instance, helped him understand how his images would work with text in layouts for ads or editorial pages. He also pointed out that students studying other creative disciplines go on to become art directors.

Duke also emphasized that learning how to communicate with creatives in a collaborative way so he could stick up for what he wanted creatively was an important step. Duke says that, on set, he is nice to everyone and “treats everyone as equals.”

Elmaleh’s work has been supported by several grants, and she underlined the importance of perseverance in applying for funding. She said she’s never gotten a grant the first time she applied for it, and suggested several resources for grant-seekers (see the list at the bottom of this post).

On the subject of perseverance, Smith, a veteran celebrity portraitist who began his career shooting news and sports, argued that careers are built not through one big break, but a series of smaller breaks.

And Wood pointed out that working hard to shoot new images, and to promote that work to editors and online audiences, have been important elements of his early career.

Offering a client perspective, Rebecca Simpson Steele spoke about sometimes following the work of photographers for long periods of time before finding a job for which they are a good match. “I pay attention to photographers when they don’t know I’m watching,” Simpson Steele said.

Grant resources: Creative Capital, Foundation Center, Brooklyn Arts Council, New York Foundation For the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Note: The next PDN’s 30 panel takes place the evening of April 25 at Santa Monica College, Humanities & Social Sciences Building, 1900 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA. The panel will include Brian Smith, Jessica Sample, Michael Friberg and Ian Allen.

March 26th, 2013

Rodney Smith Scolds PDN About March Cover Image

smith-martin-canvas
Shortly after we published our Lighting issue, in which we featured Cade Martin’s use of HMI lights to shoot the Starbuck’s Tazo tea campaign, photographer Rodney Smith cried foul. He sent us an e-mail saying that many people had contacted him to say they thought Martin’s work, including the image we ran on our cover, copied Smith’s work.

Smith directed us to a post on his blog in which he had written, “What I’m really not sure about, is why someone would applaud or even hire a vision that is by it’s [sic] very nature ‘second-rate.’” Smith didn’t name Martin or PDN specifically, but his blog post went on to say: “I realize that there is always much in life to imitate and the urge to do so is enormous, yet I also realize that to be original one has to look deep within themselves and find what no one else can copy, a very private voice.” The post appears with an image by Smith of a woman sitting in a fancy house in streams of sunlight, surrounded by teacups.

Smith also told PDN that Starbucks had contacted him about shooting for the campaign, though he couldn’t remember when.

The question Smith seems to be posing on his blog is: How could PDN have featured work that shares similar propping and subject matter as an image created previously? The answer is: We hadn’t seen Smith’s image. We know a lot of Smith’s black-and-white work, but hadn’t seen—or at least didn’t remember—the work that Martin’s resembles.  So, if we had see Smith’s images first, would we have asked Martin to explain the lighting techniques he used to create another model-with-teacups image?  Probably not.

In the plethora of images that surround us daily, we are constantly seeing projects, photo stories and campaigns that resemble works we’ve seen before. Comparison is inevitable, and we tend to privilege whichever example we saw first, and ignore the one we saw later. And at a time when ad agencies and clients are cautious of greenlighting any idea that isn’t tried and tested, photographers who manage to squeeze something fresh and inventive to their depiction of familiar themes and visual symbols are more likely to grab our attention.

We’re frequently sent pairs (or trios) of similar-looking photo projects by outraged readers who think they’re clear-cut examples of copyright infringement. But these similarities rarely rise to the legal definition of infringement, because the subject of a photograph isn’t protected by copyright law.  Recently an appeals court judged who ruled against a photographer in an infringement case expressed sympathy with “the frustration of photographers …whose works are afforded a limited copyright because they are comprised substantially of unprotected content.” As the Supreme Court has stated, “copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.”  Inventing new photographic material whole cloth, without reference or regard to the models of the past – from Rembrandt to the latest photography show – is nearly impossible in photography, and it would produce aridly self-referential work. The creativity of photographers who “build freely” on models from the past helps their work stand out, and push the medium forward.

Martin wouldn’t respond to our request for comment, beyond saying that he’s proud of his contribution to the campaign and the accolades it’s received. We appreciate that he gave so much time to sharing techniques and lighting advice, both with to and with our readers.

* Photos, above: © PDN/photo by Cade Martin (left); © Rodney Smith (right).

Related Article:

Lighting Recipe: Cade Martin’s Whimsical Advertising Work

March 22nd, 2013

Photo of Skateboarder Jumping Subway Tracks Goes Viral

© Allen Ying

© Allen Ying

A photograph showing a skateboarder doing an ollie over train tracks at a New York City subway station is causing quite a stir and much speculation on the Internet. The anxiety-inducing image was made by photographer Allen Ying and appears in Issue 3 of 43, an independent skateboarding magazine. The image was posted on the Web by a reader who photographed the magazine spread with a cell phone.

In the 43 article, which focuses on a crew of skateboarders who go on covert skating missions throughout the New York City public transportation system, Ying describes how he stood on the subway tracks around 4am to capture the unbelievable shot. He notes that the skateboarder, who is referred to as “Koki” in the article, didn’t use a ramp on the platform to launch over the tracks and made the jump on the first attempt, though additional tries were made and the skater only fell onto the tracks once.

Yesterday the New York magazine blog Daily Intelligencer spoke with Ying about the shot. For last year’s DIY Issue, PDN interviewed Ying about 43, which he launched in October 2011 and publishes quarterly.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area next week, you can see more work from the magazine at the 43 Photography Show and Issue 3 Release, which opens on March 26 at The Gallery @ The Burgundy Room. Visit www.43magazine.com for more information.

Related Articles:

How to Start Your Own Magazine: Allen Ying on 43

Photo of the Day: The Art of Skateboarding

March 20th, 2013

National Geographic Celebrates 125 Years with Vintage-Photo Blog

national-geographic-found-tumblr

As part of the celebration of their 125th year, National Geographic recently launched a Tumblr blog that unearths “lost” photographs from the Yellow Monster’s image archive, which is said to include more the 10.5 million images.

Called “Found,” the vintage-photography blog was quietly introduced a couple of weeks ago, and has built an audience rather quickly. As of last week, Found had more than 13,000 followers, according to National Geographic Digital Creative Director Jody Sugrue. Several of the images have been “liked” or shared hundreds—even thousands—of times.

“The response has been incredible,” Sugrue told PDN. “It’s been overwhelming, and I think its encouraging us to tell more stories like this, in this way.” Through Tumblr, “we have access to a community that National Geographic doesn’t normally tap into, which we’re excited about,” Sugrue says. (more…)

March 12th, 2013

Photogs Dish Anonymously About Clients’ Rates Via New Tumblr Site

A new site on Tumblr set up by an anonymous editorial photographer seeks to provide a platform where photographers can share information about what clients in all fields, from editorial to advertising to non-profits, pay photographers.

Still in its infancy, the site, Who Pays Photographers, is based on a similar Tumblr, Who Pays Writers, which, you guessed it, lists fees paid to writers. According to the anonymous founder of Who Pays Photographers, the response has been a bit overwhelming, indicating a serious interest among photographers to talk about, and read about, the fees clients pay for photographic work.

Thus far the site has information about The New York Times, Getty Images, AP, AFP, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN and several other clients in the US and abroad.

We exchanged emails with the creator of Who Pays Photographers to find out a bit more about her/his goals for the site.

PDN: How long have you worked as a photographer and in what field?

Who Pays Photographers: I’m an editorial photographer with 6 years experience, about half of that time as a staffer at a magazine, and more recently, as a freelancer.

PDN: What inspired you to start the site? Was it just a natural reaction to seeing Manjula Martin’s Who Pays Writers, or was there more to it?

WPP: The site was a simple reaction to Who Pays Writers, a site that was linked to a number of times during the recent Nate Thayer kerfuffle with the Atlantic. It seemed obvious that the photo industry could really benefit from having such a resource and I found it surprising that nothing of the sort existed. (more…)

February 25th, 2013

Obituary: Sports and Portrait Photographer Ozzie Sweet, 94

Ozzie Sweet, whose photographs have appeared on approximately 1,800 magazine covers, died on Wednesday, February 20, according to an obituary in The New York Times. He was 94 years old.

Sweet started taking photographs after joining the Air Force at the start of World War II, and his “war-time” images frequently landed on the cover of Newsweek—despite the fact that some of them were staged. A 2001 interview with SeacoastOnline noted that Sweet “hate[s] to use the word ‘faked,’” when describing his images and instead said that his shots are “carefully planned and staged.”

After the war, the self-described “photo illustrator” photographed a number of notable subjects including Albert Einstein, Grace Kelly, Joe DiMaggio, John Wayne, Mickey Mantle and Ernest Hemingway, for publications like TIME, Sport, Saturday Evening Post, Ebony, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated and Look. He later became known for his sports photography and co-authored two books on baseball: Mickey Mantle: The Yankee Years: The Classic Photography of Ozzie Sweet and The Boys of Spring. In 2005 he won a Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sports Photography.

Read his full obituary at www.nytimes.com.

February 25th, 2013

POYi Update: The New York Times and The Denver Post Excel

©The Denver Post

©The Denver Post

The New York Times and The Denver Post have both won two top prizes so far in the Multimedia Division of the Pictures of the Year International competition. Multimedia judging began on Friday. It is the final division for the competition, which ends tomorrow.

The New York Times won first prize in both the News Multimedia Story and the Feature Multimedia categories. The winning news multimedia entry, about Syrian rebel fighters, was shot by freelance video journalist Ben Solomon. The feature multimedia entry, about a couple’s struggle with the husband’s dementia, was part of the paper’s series called The Vanishing Mind, and included photographs by freelancer Béatrice de Géa.

Last week, the Times won top prize in for Best Newspaper, a POYi Editing Division category. Runners up for Best Newspaper were The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, respectively.

The Denver Post, meanwhile, won the MacDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award (also part of the Editing Division categories judged last week), as well as first prize in the Issue Reporting Multimedia Story and Sports Multimedia Story categories.

The issue reporting prize was for a project by Mahala Gaylord, Joe Amon, Meghan Lyden, and Tim Rasmussen about two heroin addicts struggling to get by on the streets of Denver. (Still photos from the project also won second prize in the Issue Reporting Picture Story category during the first week of the competition.)

The paper won the Sports Multimedia Story prize for a  project by Mahala Gaylord titled “Trey’s Team,” about a high school football player’s recovery from a head injury.

In the Campaign 2012 Multimedia Story category, Jason Reed and Larry Downing of Reuters won first prize for their story titled “Chasing Obama.”

Among other POYi prize winners in recent days was National Geographic, which won first place for Best Magazine, a POYi Editing Division category.  Runners up for the prize were New York magazine and GEOthema, which took second and third prize, respectively.

TIME magazine won first prize in the Editing Portfolio–Magazine category for its Person of the Year feature about Barack Obama, photographed by Nadav Kander.

POYi Jurors will weigh Documentary Project of the Year entries today. The POYi judging ends tomorrow with the selection of winners in Best eBook & eProject, Best Website, and Multimedia Photographer of the Year categories.

February 20th, 2013

David Alan Harvey Wins POYi’s Best Photo Book Prize

From (Based on a True Story) ©David Alan Harvey

From (based on a true story) ©David Alan Harvey

Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey has won Best Photography Book honors in the 2013 POYi competition.

Harvey won for “(based on a true story),” an experimental book comprising a collection of images–part true, and part fictional–of a journey through Rio that “explode with color, heat, humidity, sex, more sex, danger, fear, chaos, more chaos,” according to the Burn magazine Web site.

Finalists included six other books–”Brooklyn Buzz,” by Alessandro Cosmelli & Gaia Light; “England Uncensored,” by Peter Dench; “The Invisible City,” by Irene Kung, Ludovico Pratesi, and Francine Prose; “The Wrong Side: Living on the Mexican Border,” by Jerome Sessini; “In the Car with R,” by Rafal Milach & Huldar Breidfjord; and “Violentology: A Manual of the Columbian Conflict,” by Stephen Ferry.

The jurors also gave special recognition to Marc Asnin for his book, “Uncle Charlie,” and to “Bosnia: 1992-1995,” edited by Jon Jones.

POYi jurors have been selecting winners in Editing Division categories over the last several days. Winners so far include the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which took first place in the News & Issue Story Editing category for “What Obama Didn’t See.” The story is the print version of a multimedia project titled “As I Am” by Alan Spearman, which was featured in the January 2013 issue of PDN.)

National Geographic magazine won first place in the News & Issue Story Editing–Magazine category for “Nile Journey,” a story about Egypt photographed by Alex Majoli that ran in the magazine’s May 2012 issue under the title “Egypt in the Moment.”

The Washington Post won Feature Story Editing–Newspaper for “A Siberian Pictorial,” featuring images by Sebastião Salgado.

Related:
Notable Books of 2012: Part 1 (includes a review of (Based on a True Story) by David Alan Harvey)
Picture Story: A Guided Tour of Poverty in Memphis (about Alan Spearman’s “As I Am” project)
Paolo Pellegrin Named POYi Freelance Photographer of the Year
Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter Wins POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

February 19th, 2013

Paolo Pellegrin named POYi Freelance Photographer of the Year

©Paolo Pellegrin

©Paolo Pellegrin

Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin has been named Freelance Photographer of the Year at the Picture of the Year International competition. Runners up were Tomas Munita, the second place winner, and third place winner Paolo Marchetti.

Pellegrin’s portfolio of 50 images included selections from projects that mostly explore the wrenching consequences of economic hardship and political and military tensions. The projects include a story about the underside of Miami, for which Pellegrin rode along on police patrols; a crime-ridden section of Rochester, New York (ditto);  recent political changes in Cuba, and two separate stories about Gaza–including one about the effects of the Israeli blockade, the other about the lingering consequences of Israel’s attacks on the territory in 2008 and 2009..

The portfolio is a study in the type of photography for which Pellegrin is well-known: unflinching reportage combined with layered, poetic images that blur the lines between documentary and art.

In other POYi Freelance Division categories judged last week, Javier Monzano won first place in News Picture Story–Freelance/Agency for his coverage of the siege of Aleppo, Syria.

Paolo Marchetti won first place for Issue Reporting Picture Story for his project about the deplorable conditions in juvenile prisons in Latin America.

Photographer David Chancellor won the World Understanding Award for his project called Hunters, about big game safaris in Africa. It explores “the complex relationship that exists between man and animal, the hunter and the hunted, as both struggle to adapt to our changing environments.”

Photographer Arnau Bach won the Community Awareness Award for his project called Paris Suburbs, exploring conditions behind the social unrest in the city’s poorest and most segregated suburbs.

Brett Stirton of Getty Images won the Environmental Awareness award for his story about the illegal ivory trade, including its causes and consequences.

POYi jurors will select Editing Division winners this week, and conclude with Multimedia Division winners next week.

Related:
Ezra Shaw Named POYI Sports Photographer of the Year
Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter Wins POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year
Associated Press Wins Top Portrait Prizes at POYi
POYi Announces Campaign, Spot News, and Feature Category Winners

November 29th, 2012

Rangefinder Asks Photographers: What’s In Your Camera Bag?

Photo © Frank Ockenfels 3

Are you ever curious to know what other photographers haul with them on assignments or when shooting for themselves? This month, Rangefinder, sister publication of PDN, asked several photographers to open up their camera bags and photograph the contents.

The variety of gear they carry is interesting, naturally. We also got a kick out of how each photographer’s photos reflect their style, personality and packing abilities. Fine-art photographer  Lisa Elmaleh lugs one jar each of peanut butter and jelly; fashion photographer Ken Shung usually shoots digital but still carries his Rolleis, he says; Frank Ockenfels 3 brings lots and lots of pens, apparently, and other things “to keep me entertained while I wait…and wait…and wait”; music photographer Paris Visone says, “My camera bag is like my baby. It’s heavy, full of crap, and I’m constantly giving it piggyback rides.”

You can see the photos and gear descriptions from all 10 photographers at  www.rangefinderonline.com.