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September 27th, 2012

Video Pick: A Partnership to Fight the Stigma of Incarceration

During a panel discussion at ASMP’s “Sustainable Business Models: Issues & Trends Facing Visual Artists” symposium, Stephen Mayes, managing director of the VII Photo Agency warned photographers not to think of themselves strictly as service providers. He suggested looking not for clients, but for “partnerships.” He said VII has successfully formed several such partnerships, in which the entity paying for the photos isn’t necessarily the same company that’s using the photos. One such partnership is the VII Photo Agency’s recent work creating videos and photo essays for Think Outside the Cell, a non-profit organization that works with the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and their families to help end the stigma of incarceration

The campaign was funded by the Ford Foundation, and VII acted as Think Outside the Cell’s “exclusive visual communications partner,” according to the press release from VII. The photographs and video that VII photographers created for the Think Outside the Cell web site show the ordinary lives of people who were formerly incarcerated in order to raise awareness about the stigma and challenges they face upon release from prison— problems that go far beyond discrimination when applying for jobs. The stories the photographers tell also explore “the local, state and federal laws that prevent formerly incarcerated persons from accessing the resources necessary to establish a stable and productive life.”

The first of the videos, ten minutes long, debuted on the Think Outside the Cell web site this week. It’s a collaboration between Ed Kashi, Jessica Dimmock, Ashley Gilbertson and Ron Haviv; the videos are edited by Francisco Fagan.

Here’s a short trailer:

The Prison Photography blog has begun a five-part series on the Think Outside the Cell campaign, and will be running weekly interviews with each of the photographers. Part One of the series was posted this week. In it, writer Pete Brook talks to Sheila Rule and Joseph Robinson, co-founders of Think Outside The Cell, and one of the subjects featured in the video. They explain how the organization is addressing the problems of the formerly incarcerated, how the campaign was planned, and why the partnership with VII was, in Rule’s words, “a natural fit.” Says Rule, “We are both driven by storytelling. Stories change hearts and minds.”

September 14th, 2012

PDN Video Pick: Chasing The Light (With the New Nikon D600)

Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz, who we profiled in the August 2012 issue of PDN, was asked by Nikon to put the recently released D600 through its paces. Schulz was the first photographer to test the camera in the field. He and his brother, filmmaker Salomon Schulz, produced this short film, titled “Chasing the Light.”

NIKON – CHASING THE LIGHT from Florian Schulz on Vimeo.

Related: Photokina 2012: Nikon Debuts Smaller, 24.3MP Full-Frame D600 DSLR for Photo Enthusiasts

August 1st, 2012

Auto de Fe Offers $5,000 in Prizes for Inquisitive Photography

Auto de Fe, the iPad app-based journal of long-form photojournalism, has announced the Inquisitive Photography Prize fund, offering four prizes, totaling $5000, to photographers submitting proposals to the magazine. The winners will be announced in the summer of 2013, according to Jack Laurenson, Executive Editor of Auto de Fe.

To be considered for one of the prizes, photographers must submit a proposal for a story or project. If accepted for publication in Auto de Fe, the project is automatically shortlisted for the Inquisitive Photography Prize (IPP). Two finalists will be chosen from each issue until there are 16 finalists. The editors will then choose the winners of a Gold Prize of $3,000; a Silver prize of $1250; and a Bronze Prize of $750.

The submissions page of the magazine’s web site says that the magazine seeks images with text, and supports multiplatform reporting on “neglected, misrepresented or under-reported issue[s].” The two photographers selected as finalists for the IPP from Auto de Fe‘s first issue are Lisa Wiltse, for her work on the Charcoal Kids of
Ulingan and Carole Alfarah, who photographed inside Syria.

Auto de Fe announced the prize yesterday, the day before it released its second issue, available for $.99 on the Apple iTunes store.

Laurenson explains that the IPP fund is one of the ways Auto de Fe pays contributors. “The first is we give them a 50 percent slice of any revenue we generate from sales.” Auto de Fe also plans to begin hosting online print sales “in the very near future,” he says, and will split sales with photographers.

More information on the IPP can be found on the Auto de Fe web site.
For information on submissions, visit autodefemag.com/submissions-2/

June 25th, 2012

Pulitzer Center Publishes First iBook with Photographer Greg Constantine

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization that provides key support to photographers and writers working on long-term investigative journalism projects, made its first foray into digital book publishing late last week with the release of “In Search of Home,” an iBook about statelessness, featuring the photography of Greg Constantine and essays by Stephanie Hanes.

The interactive, 49-page book, grew out Hanes and Constantine’s long-term reporting project on “stateless” people, who are denied the basic rights of citizenship in the countries in which they live, often for religious and ethnic reasons. The iBook focuses on three populations who have no nationality: the Rohingya from Burma, the Nubians of Kenya, and people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. It features four slideshows of Constantine’s images, an audio slideshow that provides an overview on the problems faced by people who live in legal limbo without national identity, as well as other features, like an interactive map and timeline.

“In Search of Home” is the first in a series of iBooks that will be produced by the Pulitzer Center. The project, according to a post by Jon Sawyer, director of the Pulitzer Center,  on the organization’s blog, “is part of a broader Pulitzer Center initiative, seeking out new platforms and partners to extend the work of journalists we support and to make use of the extraordinary presentation of multimedia material now possible on tablets and other mobile devices.”

Proceeds from “In Search of Home,” which is being sold for $4.99 in the iTunes store and can be viewed using the iBook 2 app for iPad and iPhone, will go to Constantine and Hanes, minus the 30 percent Apple charges to carry the book on iTunes.

“We hope to make these books the capstone for the best of our projects, giving readers an immersive, narratively rich way of engaging the issues they cover,” Sawyer said. “We believe these presentations will appeal to all audiences, and especially to the university and secondary-school students that have become a major focus of the Pulitzer Center’s work.”

Related: Q&A: Getting Funding from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Picturing Non-Profit Journalism
Picture Story: An Emmy-Winning AIDS Documentary in Poetry and Pictures
Field Studies: Exploring the Complexities of War-Torn Congo

June 12th, 2012

MediaStorm Now Charging to View Its Stories

Multimedia production company MediaStorm says it will start charging viewers $1.99 for access to each of its stories under a new system it calls Pay Per Story. “We have decided it is time to try a new model that transfers a minimal cost to the viewer,” company founder and executive producer Brian Storm said in a prepared announcement. “We believe that our industry is in need of a sustainable business model that will allow us to continue to report and produce compelling stories.”

Until now, MediaStorm has produced and distributed stories for free, relying on revenue from workshops and corporate clients to sustain the company. But Storm said in his announcement, “[T]he reality is, no company or industry can sustain itself for long without producing a product for which people are willing to pay.” He told PDN that production costs for MediaStorm stories vary, but can be as high as $100,000 for the largest stories.

MediaStorm is initiating Pay Per Story with the launch of two new stories about old-age dementia: “A Shadow Remains” by Philip Toledano, and “Rite of Passage” by Maggie Steber. Both stories are about the decline of the photographers’ parents, and their struggles with the responsibility of being their parents’ caregivers.

“We’ve earned the right to do this,” Storm told PDN of his decision to charge viewers. “We’ve put a lot of [stories] out there for a long time, and built a great audience.”

Most of the more than 30 stories the company has produced since 2005 have had a million or more views, Storm says. Many are issue-driven stories, which draw large audiences outside the photo industry, he says. The stories are also what he calls “non-perishable” so views accumulate over several years. “We’ll make our money back over a long period of time” under the Pay Per Story system, he says.

The big question is whether viewers will be willing to pay for the company’s long-form stories, which cover serious topics and have run times of 12 to 20 minutes. In other words, the stories aren’t light entertainment, and require time commitment on the part of viewers.

Storm is confident viewers will pay in significant numbers, however. Asked what pay-per-view content models he was taking cues from, Storm said, “iTunes–30 billion apps downloaded.” He also says MediaStorm “could have easily” charged more than $1.99, “but that would have resulted in less sales and we wanted a price point that was low enough where people wouldn’t think twice about the cost.”

At the same time, though, he said he doesn’t expect the $1.99 fee to fully cover the costs of production. “That would be amazing if it did,” he said. For that to happen, the most expensive stories would have to attract 100,000 viewers–or up to 10 percent of the current non-paying audiences–who are willing to pay (MediaStorm is splitting the download revenues 50-50 with the photographers who provide the story content).

Storm told PDN that MediaStorm has not made projections about viewership under the Pay Per Story model, however. Asked whether MediaStorm might stop producing stories if it turns out that not enough viewers are willing to pay, Storm said, “No, we will continue to do what we do no matter what happens as this is only one of the various ways that we generate revenue.”

MediaStorm has made a deal to embed its proprietary Pay Per Story player on MSNBC’s web site. It claims 50 million unique visitors per month. They will be able to watch trailers for the MediaStorm stories for free. Storm is optimistic that exposure will contribute significantly to MediaStorm’s paying audience.

Storm said in the Pay Per Story announcement that MediaStorm plans to license its Pay Per Story player to other companies in the future “so they can also leverage the business model and functionality that we have developed.”

Related Articles:
PDN Photo of the Day: A Shadow Remains

Picture Story: Untangling the Afghanistan Tragedy

June 8th, 2012

Everynone’s “Symmetry” Takes Top Prize at Vimeo Video Awards

Wil Hoffman (l.) and Julius Metoyer of Everynone accept the Grand Prize at last night's Vimeo Awards.

“Symmetry,” a visual tour de force of split screen juxtaposition, took the Grand Prize at last night’s Vimeo Video Awards in New York City. The short video was created by the directing collective Everynone, which includes Daniel Mercadante, Will Hoffman, and Julius Metoyer

In accepting the award, one of Symmetry’s creators described the on-the-fly, do-it-yourself aesthetic that was essential to making the prize-winning video.

“We often approached people on the street and asked that they do things that they might think are crazy (for the video),” Hoffman said. “I only hope that they see the work so they know how much they were a part of it.”

Symmetry, shown at the bottom of this story, also won the Lyrical Category in the Vimeo Awards. For winning the Grand Prize, the Everynone collective will receive $25,000 in addition to $5,000 for the Lyrical award.

“I hope Everynone is ready to be busy, because winning this award is going to change their lives,” said Eliot Rausch, who won the Vimeo Awards Grand Prize in 2010 for his movie, Last Minutes with Oden.

Rausch, who presented the Grand Prize to Everynone, said that he’s generated major video work from the attention he received after winning the 2012 Grand Prize award and is currently directing his first feature film.

Here’s a full breakdown of 2012 Vimeo Awards category winners with links to the videos:

1.    Action Sports: Dark Side of the Lens
2.    Advertising: K-Swiss Kenny Powers – MFCEO
3.    Animation: Umbra
4.    Captured: Sweatshoppe Video Painting Europe
5.    Documentary: Amar (All Great Achievements Require Time)
6.    Experimental: Prie Dieu
7.    Fashion: Skirt
8.    Lyrical: Symmetry
9.    Motion Graphics: A History of the Title Sequence
10.    Music Video: Manchester Orchestra: Simple Math
11.    Narrative: BLINKY™
12.    Series: Often Awesome The Series
13.    Remix: Rear Window Timelapse

Reggie Watts (l.) and Beardyman entertained the crowd at the Vimeo Awards with a live musical mashup.

Vimeo Awards judges included actor and director James Franco; Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari; 2012 Oscar Nominee Lucy Walker; Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood; Scott Pilgrim vs. the World director Edgar Wright; snowboarding star Travis Rice; Thierry Mugler and UNIQLO creative director Nicola Formichetti; Shelley Page of DreamWorks Animation; Barbara London of The Museum of Modern Art; advertising legend David Droga; and others.

Reggie Watts and Beardyman were the featured live performers at the awards, mashing up comedy, music, and spirited silliness.

March 15th, 2012

PDN Video Picks: Jim Lo Scalzo’s Award-Winning Look at Salton Sea

Photographer Jim Lo Scalzo’s funny/sad video “America’s Dead Sea” won third place in the World Press Photo Multimedia contest, announced this morning. Lo Scalzo manages to find a fresh perspective on the much photographed Salton Sea in the southern California desert. Intercutting his still photos and video footage with archival promotional films, Lo Scalzo’s three-and-a-half minute video traces the area’s decline from a major tourist attraction to a lifeless toxic dump, contaminated by salinity and farm chemical runoff. The video is touching, and there’s ukelele music on the soundtrack.

You can see “America’s Dead Sea” and Lo Scalzo’s other videos on Vimeo.

Related Article

World Press Photo Multimedia Contest Winners Announced

February 28th, 2012

Damon Winter of New York Times Wins 2011 POYi Multimedia Portfolio of the Year

Damon Winter of The New York Times has won the POYi Multimedia Portfolio of the Year award in the final session of judging at the POYi competition. See the full report is at poyi.org.

Winter was honored for a portfolio of work that included video and stills for “Finding Purpose After Living With Delusion,”, about a man living with schizophrenia, “Sky Cowboys,” about the iron workers rebuilding 1 World Trade Center, and for his contributions to the interactive feature “A Year at War, Coming Home,” about a US batallion’s deployment and return.

Other winners in the multimedia division of the competition include Time magazine, which won the Documentary Project of the Year award for “Beyond 9/11,” a project by photographer Marco Grob for the tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Time magazine also won the News Multimedia Story award for a project about the uprising in Egypt shot by contract photographer Dominic Nahr.

Other winners included Alfonso Moral and Roser Corella, who won the Long-Form Multimedia Documentary Award for this project called “Machine Man,” about manual laborers in Bangladesh:

The Issue Reporting Multimedia Story award went to freelancers Elles Van Gelder and Ilvy Njiokiktjien for this project called “Afrikaner Blood,” about extremists clinging to South Africa’s apartheid past:

Reporter Corinne Reilly and photographer Ross Taylor of the Virginia Pilot won the Feature Multimedia Story award for this story called “Home | Front” about a Virginia family separated by the war in Afghanistan:

A complete list of categories, with links to all the winning entries, is online at poyi.org.

Related stories:
Donald Miralle Wins POYi’s Sports Photographer of the Year Award

Yuri Kozyrev Wins POYi’s Freelance Photographer of the Year Award

Craig Walker Wins POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year Award

February 27th, 2012

AP’s Charles Dharapak Wins Photograph of the Year in “Eyes of History” Contest

©Associate Press/Charles Dharapak. President Obama endures a pint of Guinness on a 2011 trip to Ireland.

Charles Dharapak of the Associated Press has been named Photographer of the Year in the still photography division of the 2012 “Eyes of History” contest, the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) has announced. Andrew Harnik of the Washington Times won the Political Photo of the Year award.

In the new media division of the competition, John Poole of NPR won first place in the Best Use of Photography & Audio (with narration). David Gilky of NPR won Best Use of Photography &Audio (natural sound). Whitney Shefte of The Washington Post won first and second place in the Best of Multimedia (in depth) category, while  Jim Lo Scalzo of EPA won first place in the Best Multimedia Package (simple) category.

Judges for the still photo competition were Ohio University professor Marcy Nighswander and photographers Bob Pearson and Ed Kashi. A full list of still photography winners will be posted here on the WHNPA site.

Judges for the new media competition were photographers Liz O. Baylen, Will Yurman, and Zach Wise. The full list of new media winners will be posted here on the WHNPA site.

The White House News Photographers Association sponsors The Eyes of History contest. This year’s winners  will be honored at the annual “Eyes of History” Gala on May 5, 2012, in Washington, DC.

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)