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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 13th, 2012

“Know Your Rights” Video for Photographers

HitRECord, an online artist collaborative and production company started by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has created the animated short “They Can’t Turn the Lights Off Now” based on the ACLU of Florida’s pamphlet “Photographers: Know Your Rights.” The setting for the video is a demonstration on Wall Street, where a young girl’s camera is confiscated by a police officer. To her rescue comes Benjamin Franklin (with angel wings), who explains what rights she has to take photographs under the first amendment. The video appears to be making a statement about the recent actions by police to limit journalists and others from documenting Occupy Wall Street protests. Watch the video below and go to ACLU.org to learn more about photographer rights.

Related Articles:

After Arrest Photog Recovers Deleted Video File, Vows to Sue Police

U.S. Falls to #47 on Press Freedom Index, Thanks to Occupy Crackdowns

London’s Occupied Spaces (9 Photos)

February 10th, 2012

After Arrest, Photog Recovers Deleted Video File and Vows to Sue Police

There was another photographer arrested last week when police moved in to break up an Occupy encampment in Miami. But this time, police may have grabbed a tiger by the tail.

The photographer managed to capture his arrest–or most of it–on video. Police allegedly erased the video file, which the photographer says he has since recovered. Not only will it exonerate him, he says, but it gives him the evidence he needs to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for violation of his civil rights.

The photographer happens to be Carlos Miller, a tireless critic of police harassment of photographers and the voice behind the Photography Is Not a Crime blog. At the time of his arrest last week, he was shooting for MiamiBeach411.com, a local news and travel site where he works as a senior editor. (more…)

January 26th, 2012

US Falls To #47 On Press Freedom Index, Thanks to Occupy Crackdowns

Reporters Without Borders ranked the United States 47th on their 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index, down 27 places from the previous year, tied with Argentina and Romania.

“In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 [journalists] were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation,” Reporters Without Borders wrote in their report. The US “owed its fall” to arrests and harassment related to coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the non-profit reporters’ rights group said.

The drop saw the US ranked just above Latvia, and Trinidad and Tobago, which fell 20 places due to a scandal involving the government spying on journalists.

In a statement released along with the index today, Reporters Without Borders noted that “Many media [around the world] paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements…. Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011.”

In North African and Middle East, the Arab uprisings greatly affected the rankings of several nations. In Tunisia and Libya rose in the index as censorious regimes were deposed. Egypt, however, fell 39 places in the index due in part to “The hounding of foreign journalists for three days at the start of February, the interrogations, arrests and convictions of journalists and bloggers by military courts, and the searches without warrants,” the report said.

Syria and Yemen were already lowly ranked, so their crackdowns on demonstrations and journalists only caused them to sink a bit lower. Iran fell in the rankings to 175. China, “which has more journalists, bloggers and cyber-dissidents in prison than any other country,” the report notes, also ranked near the bottom of the index at 174.

Eritrea was the worst nation in the ranking for a fifth straight year, and its Horn of Africa neighbors Somalia and Sudan also received low rankings as part of an East African region where journalists are regularly subjected to violence, censorship and lengthy prison sentences served in awful conditions.

The Press Freedom Index is calculated using a scoring system based on a questionnaire distributed to partner organizations, a network of 150 correspondents around the world, and to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists.

For the full report and more on the creation of the index, see the full Reporters Without Borders release.

Related: New York Times Photographer Blocked by NYPD
Photogs Arrested in Raid on Occupy Protest at Zuccotti Park

December 20th, 2011

Dragonfly Photo Wins $10k National Geographic Photo Contest

© Shikhei Goh

A close-up photograph of a dragonfly weathering a rain storm in Indonesia’s Riau Islands earned photographer Shikhei Goh the $10,000 grand prize in the 2011 National Geographic Photography Contest.

In a statement, National Geographic magazine photographer Tim Laman, who was one of three judges for the competition, celebrated the photograph’s “beautiful light, rare action in a close-up image, as well as its technical perfection.” Goh’s photograph also won first prize in the “Nature” category.

A photograph by Izabelle Nordfjell of a Sami reindeer hunter preparing to take a shot while his son covers his ears won first prize in the “People” category, while George Tapan’s image of
a rainbow stretching out over the ocean off of the Philippines’ Onuk Island received first prize in the “Places” category.

These photographs were selected from more than 20,000 images submitted by professional and amateur photographers from more than 130 countries.

Galleries of the winning images and honorable mentions are online here.

The other judges were National Geographic magazine photographers Amy Toensing, and Peter Essick.

December 15th, 2011

New York Times Photographer Blocked by NYPD

A new video making the rounds on the Internet captured a police officer preventing New York Times freelance photographer Robert Stolarik from taking photographs of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors getting arrested at the World Financial Center on December 12, 2011. In November, multiple media outlets signed a letter sent to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly complaining about the treatment of journalists covering the OWS movement. In response to the complaint, Commissioner Kelly ordered officers not to impede any journalists from reporting on the protests. The officer in the video appears to be violating that order.

The video, which was recently uploaded to YouTube, shows officers creating a “human wall” in order to  purposefully block onlookers from taking photos and videos of the arrests. However, around the two-minute mark, it becomes apparent that one officer repeatedly prevents Stolarik, whose press badge is clearly visible, from photographing the arrest by placing his body in front of the camera’s lens. In response to the video, various Web sites are reporting that the assistant general counsel for The New York Times has sent another letter to Commissioner Kelly.

Related blog posts:
Photogs Arrested in Raid on Occupy Protest at Zuccotti Park
Video Shows Police Shooting Photographer

December 1st, 2011

San Fran Restrepo Screening to Benefit Committee to Protect Journalists

A special screening of “Restrepo,” the acclaimed Afghan War documentary directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, will be held next week at the San Francisco Film Society/New People Cinema.

Sponsored by Open Show, the San Francisco Film Society and National Geographic, the December 7 screening is being held in memory of Hetherington, who was killed in Libya in April 2011. Proceeds from ticket sales and the auction of several limited edition posters from Hetherington’s exhibition of his “Infidel” body of work will benefit the Committee to Protect Journalists, an organization dedicated to the global defense of press freedom.

For more information on the screening visit Open Show.

November 30th, 2011

National Geographic Photographers Launch “Photo Society” Web Site

The Photographer’s Advisory Board for National Geographic magazine has launched a new Web site to showcase the work of National Geographic photographers. Membership in the group, dubbed “The Photo Society,” is limited to photographers who’ve published at least one feature story in the magazine.

The purpose of the group and their Web site is to promote the work of the photographers, and to inform the public about their work. It also appears the site is meant to help would-be (or wannabe) National Geographic photographers understand what it takes to work for the magazine.

“Explaining the diversity and composition of this group is the easiest way to answer the question, ‘How do I become a National Geographic photographer?’” writes photographer Randy Olson on the site. “‘It is not easy or glamorous,” he explains, “And this is not where you begin your career. You are competing with world-class documentary photographers and within that genre there are men and women who are the absolute best at their specialty.’”

Check out The Photo Society site here: http://thephotosociety.org/

October 31st, 2011

PhotoPlus Panel: Why Licensing Matters

There’s no better argument for eschewing a buyout or work-for-hire contract, than Michael Grecco’s real-world example of how he earned more than $140,000 in licensing fees over an eight-year period from one advertising client. Because the contract had a set licensing period, every time the client wanted to use the images after the license expired, Grecco had to be paid again. John Harrington, Grecco’s partner for the 2011 PhotoPlus Expo seminar Licensing: Putting Money Back in Your Pocket, presented a similar case study to demonstrate how he earned $940 from an editorial client who wanted to use additional takes from a cover shoot for two sister publications not included in the license.

Of course, none of these fees would have been possible if their licensing agreements, which should always include the terms of usage (length of time, type of medium, region, etc) and exclusivity, were not clearly defined. Harrington is a big proponent of PLUS (Picture Licensing Universal System), a non-profit organization with the goal “to simplify and facilitate the communication and management of image rights.” On its site, UsePLUS.com, there is a License Generator tool that allows users to create a license based on the criteria entered. The trade organization American Photographic Artists also has licensing information on its site, APANational.com, or you can work with an intellectual property attorney who specializes in artists’ rights. Grecco also mentioned the importance of obtaining model releases and keeping them on file, especially if you plan on selling images commercially.

An important component of licensing is copyright protection, which Grecco and Harrington also discussed. Though as the photographer you technically own the copyright of an image at the click of the camera’s shutter (unless you’re doing work-for-hire or you’ve ceded the rights of the image), actually registering the photo at the U.S. Copyright Office will make prosecuting an infringement case much easier—a lesson Grecco learned the hard way when his photos were infringed: once when a derivative work was created and another time when a work was reprinted, both without his permission.

Grecco briefly touched on his system for registering his images with the Copyright Office, which he does en masse while the photos are still unpublished (once they’ve been published they must be registered individually): He fills out the necessary forms at Copyright.gov; creates CDs or DVDs with the files, organizing them using Print Window for Mac software; and sends the discs via a shipper that provides proof of receipt, such as FedEx or UPS. This last part is particularly important since the copyright goes into effect on the date it’s submitted, which means the date it’s received by the U.S. Copyright Office.

Though the licensing process seems onerous, it’s worth the extra work; both Grecco and Harrington use their knowledge of copyright and licensing to negotiate better fees from clients. And making extra money on photographs you’ve already taken, that’s just a smarter way to do business.

October 31st, 2011

PhotoPlus Panel: Getting a Tastemaker’s Attention

Aiming to shed some light on how photography mavens find innovative work, W.M. Hunt moderated the seminar Your Picture is Fabulous: The Tastemakers and Why We Look at What We Do during the 2011 PhotoPlus Expo. The panel featured a gallery owner (Yossi Milo of Yossi Milo Gallery), a magazine photo editor (Caroline Wolff of W) and an agency director (Kelly Penford of Jed Root)—in other words, a wide array of influential people every photographer dreams of impressing.

Though it’s not easy to articulate what makes a photograph cutting-edge, Hunt, a photo collector and former gallery director, noted that he needed to be excited by the work and told the story of traveling to Paris to see photojournalist Luc Delahaye’s Taliban Soldier, a large-scale image of a Taliban fighter lying dead in the dirt. Though Vanity Fair and The New Yorker both passed on the photo (American Photo ended up publishing it) when he returned to the U.S., Hunt was able to sell the image to a collector for $15,000—using just the color Xerox of the print—proving he had indeed discovered something new. Milo seconded Hunt’s sentiments, saying he wants to be blown away by a work and cited the example of Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series “The Park,” which not only excited him, but also had an amazing concept he was intrigued by.

Yet Hunt readily admitted that it’s hard to be fresh and pressed the panelists to find out what is trending now. In a word: technology. Milo said he’s been looking to younger photographers and is currently captivated by innovations in the picture-making process. An example is Matthew Brandt’s series “Lakes and Reservoirs,” in which he develops the photographs using water from the lake or reservoir featured in the photo. Wolff explained that she recently commissioned on online video from Santiago & Mauricio in which still images contained moving droplets of water, while Penford added that digital is the only acceptable method for his clients, who expect to see instantaneous results.

So how do you get your work in front of a tastemaker? Wolff said she reads a variety of magazines and newspapers, and used the examples of a few up-and-coming photographers she’s either commissioned or is keeping tabs on: She discovered Santiago & Mauricio through their submission in W’s Fashion on Film series; Chadwick Tyler was featured on the cover of Grey magazine; and Elle Muliarchyk’s “Dressing Room” series was published in The New York Times Magazine.

Penford said he looks at everything and anything, but emphasized the power of photo blogs. His agency currently represents Scott Schuman whose blog The Sartorialist receives millions of visitors each month, the popularity of which lead to new assignments, and recently signed Bill Gentle largely due to the photos on his blog Backyard Bill. Milo said he also reads a lot, both print and online, as well as travels and goes to shows. However, he tends to track photographers and follow them for a couple years to see how their style evolves before contacting them.

The moral of the seminar? Though there’s no way to guarantee your work will be deemed worthwhile by influential people in the industry, one thing that’s for sure is that it has to be out there in order to get noticed in the first place. Start a blog, enter a contest, send an introductory e-mail—do whatever you can to get your photographs seen by the right people.