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February 24th, 2014

Who’s Winning at POYi? PDN Links to First Place Entries in Editing and Multimedia Categories

©The Denver Post/Craig F. Walker. From "Cecil & Carl," first place winner of POYi's Newspaper Feature Story Editing category.

©The Denver Post/Craig F. Walker. From “Cecil & Carl,” first place winner of POYi’s Newspaper Feature Story Editing category.

After naming Newspaper and Freelance Photographers of the Year and winners of various other categories during the past three weeks, the Pictures of the Year International competition continues to release results in other categories.

Jurors have weighed entries for the Editing and Multimedia Division categories this past week. Here’s a round-up of winners in those categories so far, with links to online versions of the stories and videos:

Editing Division:
News & Issue Story Editing (newspaper): The Washington Post, “Never the Same: Refuge Stories from the Syrian Exodus.” The entry features photography by Linda Davidson.

Feature Story Editing (newspaper): The Denver Post, “Cecil & Carl,” featuring photography by Craig F. Walker.

News & Issue Story Editing (magazine): National Geographic, “The New Oil Landscape,” featuring photography by Eugene Richards.

Feature Story Editing (magazine): TIME magazine, “A Portrait of Domestic Violence,” featuring photography by Sara Naomi Lewkowicz.

Series or Special Section: The New York Times, “The Lady Jaguars–Year 2,” featuring photography by Ruth Fremson.

Editing Portfolio (newspaper): Becky Hanger and Jeffrey Furticella, The New York Times.

Editing Portfolio (magazine): Kira Pollack, Time Magazine.

McDougall Overall in Excellence in Editing Award: The New York Times.

Best Newspaper and Best Magazine winners have yet to be named.

Multimedia Division:

Feature: “Sensei” by freelancer Ora DeKornfeld.

Sports Feature: “The Lights Go Out: the final season of Hollywood Park” by a team from the Los Angeles Times, including videographers Spencer Bakalar and Bethany Mollenkof.

News: “Spanish Bank Scandal Wipes Out Savings,” by freelancers Almudena Toral, Suzanne Daley and Rachel Chaundler.

Issue Reporting: “The Last Clinic,” by Maisie Crow (See Maisie Crow’s web site for the trailer and photographs).

Jurors will select winners of the Documentary Journalism category today. Tomorrow, jurors will select Documentary Project of the Year, Best eBook, Best Website and Multimedia Photographer of the Year.

Related:

Daniel Berehulak Named 2014 POYI Freelance Photographer of the Year

Barbara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Patrick Smith Named POYi’s 2014 Sports Photographer of the Year

February 10th, 2014

Freelancer Astrid Riecken Wins “Eyes of History” Photographer of the Year Honors

Astrid Riecken has won Photographer of the Year honors at the 2014 Eyes of History competition, the White House News Photographers Association announced yesterday. The Washington, DC-based freelancer also won first-place prizes in the Feature and Portfolio categories.

Win McNamee of Getty Images won Political Photo of the Year for an image of President Barack Obama speaking at a White House briefing room about the Trayvon Martin case. McNamee also won first place in the Presidential category.

In other still photo categories, Melina Mara won first place prizes for both Picture Story Politics and Political Portfolio. Bonnie Jo Mount won first place for Picture Story Feature. Mara and Mount are both Washington Post staff photographers.

Jabin Botsford of Western Kentucky University won Student Photographer of the Year honors.

Best of Show for multimedia entries went to Ken Geiger of National Geographic for the iPad version of his story called The Last Chase, about Tim Samaras, a well-known storm chaser who was killed during a tornado in May 2013. Geiger also swept first, second, and third prizes in the Non-Linear Storytelling category.

In the Linear Storytelling category, Jim Lo Scalzo won first place for a multimedia story about Iowa’s county fairs that he produced for European Press Photo Agency.

A complete list of categories and winners is available at the White House News Photographers Association web site.

Winners of the competition in all categories will be honored at the WHNPA’s annual black tie gala, scheduled for May 10, 2014, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington.

February 5th, 2014

Pulitzer Center Releases Annual Report Highlighting Photography

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which provides funding to journalists and news organizations, allowing them to carry out independent, in-depth reporting, released its 2013 annual report today. Several projects involving photographers were among those highlighted in the report, providing a good overview of the types of work the Center is funding, and the types of projects the media is willing to publish, given the means.

They included:

Sea Change, the multimedia story on ocean acidification created by The Seattle Times and staff photographer Steve Ringman (our story about the creation of Sea Change is here.)

A series of photo stories and reports on Japan’s collapsing social safety net, including images by Shiho Fukada. (Our story on Fukada’s project on Japan’s “disposable workers” is here.)

An issue of Poetry magazine dedicated to Afghan landau poems and women’s rights, with photographs by Seamus Murphy. (For more on Murphy’s coverage of Afghanistan, beginning in 1994, see our story on his multimedia project, “Afghanistan: A Darkness Visible.”)

Documentary photographer Larry Price’s work on child labor in Philippine gold mines.

Reporting on gun violence in Chicago featuring photography by Carlos Javier Ortiz. (Our story about Ortiz’s long-term project, “Too Young to Die,” is here.)

And reporting on the perpetual conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo that includes work by photographer and filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies.

Related Article: Getting Funding from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting (available to subscribers with login).

January 16th, 2014

Sundance Film Festival New Frontier Program Highlights Photography

Film still from Michel Comte's "The Girl From Nagasaki."

Film still from Michel Comte’s “The Girl From Nagasaki.”

Photography’s influence on contemporary art and society, and its use in multimedia storytelling, are on display this year at the Sundance Film Festival in the New Frontier program, which emphasizes “transmedia” storytelling.

The film festival founded by Robert Redford, which opens today in Park City, Utah, and runs through January 26, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2014.

“New Frontier champions films that expand, experiment with, and explode traditional storytelling,” said a statement from the organizers. Participating filmmakers have created interactive photography installations that accompany their films, and have produced documentaries on photographic history and the significance of the medium. One photographer, Michel Comte, is making his directorial debut with a 3-D feature film adaptation of the Puccini opera “Madame Butterfly.”

In his film “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People,” director Thomas Allen Harris considers the history of African-American photography and its role in African American life and identity.

In addition to the film, Allen Harris is presenting a companion installation, “Digital Diaspora Family Reunion,” “a traveling roadshow that engages local communities to bring forth their family photographs and share them with others, and upload them into a database that re-imagines the social network through family photography and family heirloom photographs,” says Shari Frilot, Sundance Film Festival Senior Programmer and curator of the New Frontier exhibition. Images from the project are showing in a New Frontier exhibition.

Another photo-based art installation, “My 52 Tuesdays,” by Artists Sophie Hyde, Sam Haren and Dan Koerner, is a companion piece to the film “52 Tuesdays,” which is in the World Dramatic program at the festival, follows a year in the life of teenage girl and her mother as the latter goes through a gender transition to become a man. The installation is a photo booth, where participants can go in and sign up to create their own yearlong personal documentary through photography. “Every Tuesday you will be sent a question that creates space to reflect on how you make choices, how you’re living your life, and you take a photograph of yourself,” Frilot explains. At the end of the year, participants will have an album of their year.

Photographer Michel Comte’s directorial debut, “The Girl from Nagasaki,” is a feature film adaptation of “Madame Butterfly” set in Nagasaki, Japan. during World War II and its aftermath. The 3-D film follows its main character as she emerges from the ashes of the atomic bomb dropped on the city. “He definitely brings a photographic sensibility [to the film],” Frilot says. “It’s a visually stunning work.”

Another artwork, Doug Aitken’s video installation, The Source, an evolving series of conversations about artmaking in the 21st century, includes photographers Stephen Shore and William Eggleston.

Finally, photographers are likely to be fascinated by artist James Nares’ work “Street.” Using a Phantom Flex HD camera, Nares slows down the frantic pace of a New York City streets to create a video installation that is “very simple and elegant and absolutely mesmerizing,” Frilot says. “You feel like you are watching a photograph of the streets in motion.”

November 27th, 2013

PDN Video: Is Your Photo Project a Contender for Lens Blog?

Jim Estrin: How Lens Blog Selects Photo Projects from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Jim Estrin, founder and co-editor of Lens, the popular New York Times photography blog, recently sat down with PDN to talk about what he looks for in photo projects, what distinguishes the projects that Lens blog publishes, and why Lens editors reject many other stories. For photographers trying to get his attention, he offers insight and tips about work ethic, story choice, and representation of subjects. He also discusses two projects that exemplify Lens Blog’s standards and esthetic.

 

August 13th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Monkeys in a Minute

Cary and Yari Wolinsky, a father and son video production team based in Massachusetts, have produced a series of genuinely heartwarming videos for an NGO called Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled. The organization provides its clients with companion monkeys that help with simple everyday tasks. But more importantly, the monkeys give their owners a renewed sense of purpose as caregivers to adorable, affectionate pets. The Wolinskys explain in a PDN feature story how they gained the trust of the NGO, which is extremely protective of its clients and their monkeys. They also share a lot of instructive details about how they produced the videos.

This video, called Michael and Kathy, is one of a series called Monkeys in a Minute. Other videos in that series are posted on the Helping Hands Web site. Several longer videos about Helping Hands are also available on the Wolinskys’ Web site.

Michael & Kathy from Helping Hands Monkey Helpers on Vimeo.

August 5th, 2013

Documentary Showcases Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer, Hip Hop Historian, Activist

Jamel-Shabazz-Street-Photographer“Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer,” the new documentary about the photographer whose books Back in the Days and A Time Before Crack chronicled the rise of hip hop culture in New York in the 1980s, is playing this week at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn. It will also be shown in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco this fall.

The movie follows Shabazz as he photographs on the subway and in the neighborhoods that he has photographed since the 1970s. It includes extensive interviews with him about his photography.

Directed by Charlie Ahearn, who also directed “Wild Style,” about early rap, “Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer” includes interviews with Fab Five Freddy, KRS-One and other musicians from the day. They probably help draw in audiences. But once in the theater, they’ll learn that Shabazz was interested in more than just the music and the culture. He was also trying to celebrate life in a community that was often ignored by the media, by outsiders, by government.

In a 2010 interview with PDN, Shabazz said, “It’s about recording history for future generations to see, and showing the dignity and the integrity in our community, something that’s not often shown in the media.”

Shabazz worked as a corrections officer in Riker’s Island, the New York City detention center. After working a shift, he would come home to Brooklyn and take photos as an antidote. He got in the habit of carrying fruit in his pockets that he would give away, in order to encourage kids to have a healthy snack. “I look for love, compassion, the human spirit of a person.” he told PDN.

You can view the trailer on Vimeo.

August 5th, 2013

How to Find Photo Projects in Your Own Backyard

Finding a good photo project is always a challenge, but the staff of The Herald in Jasper, Indiana, a town of about 15,000 people, has been coming up with a photo essay every week for the past 35 years. What’s more, photographers at The Herald have won a number of major photo prizes for their work over the years.

David Weatherwax, chief photographer of The Herald, has won Photojournalist of the Year  (in the small market category) in the NPPA Best of Photojournalism competition for the past two years. He recently explained in a PDN interview how he and his colleagues come up with so many story ideas in their own backyard.

At The Herald, they rely plenty on the personal contacts they accumulate in their day-to-day work as newspaper journalists. Photographer Carrie Niland, who has worked as a photo editor at The Seattle Times, AOL, and The Post-Standard in Syracuse, says the key to finding good local stories it so start a lot of conversations, asking people to tell you about the most interesting people they know.

She and photograph John Berry came up with more than 40 local story ideas for the 2013 NPPA Multimedia Workshop in Syracuse this past spring.  Niland found stories at a cemetery, a karaoke bar, a bowling alley, and a farm, to name just a few places. She searched by calling people she knew, but she also got in her car and just drove around. For instance, she scouted a working class neighborhood where she knew there were a lot of family-run businesses. When she spotted one that looked interesting, she walked in, introduced herself to the boss, explained what she was looking for, and started following every lead she got.

“The biggest advice I could give is to go to someplace outside your comfort zone”–for Niland it was the karaoke bar–”start talking to people, and really listen to what they have to say,” she says. “See what makes them tick, and what interests them, and what they find interesting.”

Niland kept her ear tuned for personal struggle, which can make compelling documentary stories. “Everyone has something they’re trying to overcome or work towards. it’s just talking to people to find out what that is, without directly asking them,” she says. Instead, she asked them about their work, their pastimes, their routines–and why they did those things.

“I think the most important thing is to be open to every story I could possibly find. I didn’t shut down what anyone had to say,” she explains. “If someone said, hey, I have this friend who’s really interesting, and she picks up dog poop for a living–that actually happened. There’s a person who goes around and picks up dog poop from people’s yards. I didn’t know people did that for a living.

“I investigated that. I was trying to be open to everything I heard and follow up on it.”

Alas, nobody at the workshop produced a story about the pooper scooper. The point, though, is that just talking to enough can lead you to surprising stories everywhere.

Of course, there are some useful resources online for finding story leads. Gregg McLachlan, formerly Associate Managing Editor of the Simcoe Reformer, Ontario, Canada, published a list called “50 Places to Shop for Story Ideas” several years ago. Although the list is several years old, it suggests all kinds of places and resources to peruse for story ideas hiding in plain sight.

Transom.org, a showcase and resource for independent radio producers, solicited suggestions from its readers about how to find stories in places where you don’t live. But the suggestions are just as applicable to finding good photo stories in your own neighborhood.

Happy hunting, and if you have other ideas for digging up good documentary stories near home, please add them to our comments section below.

Related: David Weatherwax’s Approach to Small Town Journalism

June 10th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Open Lanes

In his short video “Open Lanes,” photographer Stephen M. Keller captures an honest, revealing portrait of a bowling alley owner struggling to keep his business alive. The video, with audio and visuals that are equally compelling, was one of several noteworthy projects by participants at the 2013 NPPA Multimedia Immersion workshop at Syracuse University last month. The five-day workshop was a hands-on course in multimedia story telling and production. Participants were given names of subjects and contact information, then turned loose to figure out the subject’s story, and gather the audio and video required to tell it. Coaches with experience in multimedia production helped the workshop participants shape and edit their stories. (PDN editor David Walker participated in the workshop at the invitation of organizers).

 

Stephen Keller – Open Lanes – NPPA Immersion 2013 from Multimedia Immersion on Vimeo.

PDN: What was the assignment you got at the workshop?
Stephen Keller: It wasn’t detailed at all. It just said, Solvay Recreation Alleys and it gave a phone number. I called and talked to the [owner] for 20 or 30 minutes about the bowling alley, and what was going on with it. He seemed like a good guy who loved bowling, and the bowling industry, but he was also in tough times and I thought [the bowling alley] might be in some financial trouble. But he was a normal guy who you want to see succeed.

PDN: How in-depth was your pre-production interview?
SK: I was trying to get as much information as I could, to get an idea where I wanted to go with the story. I wanted to have idea what I might want to look for, what I might want to shoot, what I might want to ask in the interview. I like to preview [stories], to see if they will be worthwhile. It’s also a way to build rapport and get [the subject] familiar with me, even before the camera is there.

PDN: Were you concerned he might tell you the whole story in the pre-production interview, and then be less enthusiastic about telling it on tape because he’d already told you his story?
SK: Not really, because he was a guy who seemed like he liked to talk. I think pre-production interviews are a good thing. I usually do the regular [recorded] interview after all the footage is shot. So I’m familiar with the subject and the story, and I’m going to ask the same questions multiple times in different parts of the interview so I get it clean.

PDN: Did you have a clear idea of the story narrative in your head before you got there, and if so, what was it?
SK: A little bit–it was kind of like an economy story. I wanted to go in that direction because everyone can kind of relate to that. When I got there, it looked pretty much the way I imagined, but I was wondering: how do I shoot an empty bowling alley? That’s boring, so how do I make it visually interesting?

During the pre-production interview I got information about when there were likely to be customers, but when I arrived there was just nobody there. For the three hours that I was there, there has nothing happening, so I went back the next day to [film] some actual customers. I ended up shooting with people there, and without people there, and I tried to get the same angles, somewhat. I should have put marks on the floor to put the tripod in the same spot, to make jump cuts between those shots [with and without people]. I [also] showed that the clientele is [disappearing] by filming the senior citizens who bowl there.

PDN: Did you do the interview after all the shooting was finished?
SK: We did the interview at the end of the first day [after] nobody came in. We were in the same room together for three or four hours, just us. [Your subject] kind of gets familiar with the camera that way.

PDN: What were the biggest challenges you had?
SK: With this piece, because I’m more experienced shooter, I wanted to focus on the parts of my skill set that aren’t the best. My main thing was to focus on getting best interview I’ve ever gotten.

PDN: Your subject’s struggle and sense of resignation comes across so well in the interview. How did you get him to let his guard down?
SK: It was just being around each other. It was being up front, and building that rapport. He opened up, and was the kind of guy who wouldn’t hide anything [anyway]. I also noted his responses to the questions, and returned to some of them to get him to elaborate more.
[Workshop coach] Evan [Vucci's] “dumb dog” technique really helped. When the subject finished up a sentence, I would give him the “dumb dog” look and he would keep going, and elaborate further without [my] even having to [ask a follow-up question]. [Editor’s note: With the “dumb dog” technique, an interviewer tilts his head and raises his eyebrows inquisitively as soon as the subject finishes responding to a question. The key is to make the gesture without saying a word. The purpose is to prompt the subject to continue talking, and it often leads the subject to give an unguarded response to the question at hand.]

PDN: Was it a challenge to edit the story?
SK:  There were so may great quotes. The hardest part was cutting [them]. As Evan said to me, “You have to kill your babies” [i.e., the quotes that you love the most] to tell a great story about this guy. One thing [the subject] said that didn’t make it into the film was that he was an avid bowler, but he’s had a knee injury and hasn’t been able to bowl for a few years.

(See all the 2013 Multimedia Immersion videos here, and more videos by Keller here)

Related story:
PDN Video Pick: Our Own Little World

June 5th, 2013

MoMA’s Photography Curator on Underappreciated Photographers

Quentin Bajac, who was appointed chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, gave an interview to critic and author Richard B. Woodward, published last week in the Wall Street Journal. Bajac talked about his ideas for future acquisitions for the permanent collection.

“Artists that he thinks the museum has wrongly ignored or undercollected include Luigi Ghirri,” Woodward writes.  “Among Americans, he cites James Welling as an ‘important’ figure underappreciated in the past by MoMA; and Mr. Bajac was ‘shocked’ it [MoMA] had not a single print by the photojournalist Susan Meiselas.” Bajac also tells Woodward he’d like the permanent collection to represent more Japanese, African and Latin America photographers. (Yes, MoMA’s holdings seem pretty provincial, especially compared to those of other institutions.)

During the interview with Woodward, Bajac also touched on ideas for new shows (note how Martin Parr’s name is mentioned), his thoughts on displaying moving images and media installations, and what role he believes museums and curators should play in a society that experiences “a surfeit of images” every day. One of Bajac’s comments will ring true to anyone who follows photography today: “Photography is no longer about the wall. The book form is basic to photography. Young photographers are self-publishing. We must be aware of that and work closely with the museum library.”

The full article, “Snapshot of a Curator,” can be found on online.wsj.com.