Three photographers walk into a hotel in Dubai. A guy proposes a self portrait shoot-out, and they agree to take up the challenge in front of an audience of photographers in town to attend the Gulf Photo Plus 2012 show. The first photographer, David Hobby, says, “My goal tonight is not to fatally embarrass myself in front of my long-time idols.” The second photographer, Martin Prihoda, tells the MC that still life makes him uncomfortable. (Fortunately for him, still life wasn’t the challenge.) The third photographer, Gregory Heisler, says, “I really have to pee.” Then the shoot-out begins, with an intrepid video crew on hand to capture the drama, reality-TV style. Cameo appearances by David Burnett, Zack Arias, and Joe McNally. We’ll resist the urge to spoil the surprise by revealing the winner.
Last August, as legendary Magnum photographer Martin Parr traveled around Finland capturing the essence of that nation and its people, he had a camera crew tagging along as he searched for subjects and made his characteristically deadpan images. The result is a nine-minute documentary his fans are sure to appreciate called “Martin Parr–The Making of ‘Think of Finland,’” which is the name of his new show at Laboratory, a Helsinki gallery. Shot and directed by Rami Hanafi, the film shows Parr wandering the streets, night clubs, markets, beaches and countryside on what appears to be a big scavenger hunt. Parr explains on the voiceover soundtrack what he’s looking for and how he goes about his work. “Think of Finland” will be on exhibit at Laboratory through April 8.
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.
The ingenuity and craftsmanship that go into photographer Lori Nix‘s images of carefully crafted dioramas and miniature models always elicit a smile, even when the subject is dark or ominous. This past fall, Nix and her partner and collaborator Kathleen Gerber were asked by producer and writer Joe Sabia to help make a video on a serious topic: the overfishing of the world’s oceans. The idea was to inspire people to consider this environmental issue by explaining where sushi comes from.
Directed by Vincent Peone, “The Story of Sushi” begins in a sushi bar then moves to a fishing trawler to a warehouse and back to a restaurant. Each location is actually one of Nix and Gerber’s sets. It’s at once realistic and playful, thanks to all the props and models, including toy sharks and billowing fog –all sourced, assembled or handcrafted by Nix and Gerber.
Gerber describes the seven-month project on the Lori Nix blog.
Can a photographer promote video work by showing still images? In PDN‘s feature story about Jonathan Chapman’s direct mail promos, “All the New Work that’s Fit to Print,” the Minneapolis-based photographer and director explains that his new large-format newsprint mailer shows multiple images from assignments and personal projects, whether he shot them as stills or video. For example, he shows stills of bikers, created as part of a video assignment for Specialized, the bike manufacturer. His “Jonathan Chapman Photography/Motion” logo appears on the sun-kissed images, while the URL points readers to find his motion reel on his Web site. His videos like this one for Specialized can also be found on Vimeo.
Photographer Gregory Crewdson, who is famous for his cinematic depictions small-town American life, is the subject of a new documentary that will premiere March 10 at the SXSW music and film festival in Austin, Texas. Directed by Ben Shapiro, the film is called “Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters.” It takes viewers behind the scenes of the elaborate productions of some of his best known images, and if this trailer is any indication, the film shows what a regular guy he is–knocking over lamps, waking up sick with worry that things might go wrong–in his search for the perfect moment.
Photographer and filmmaker Enrique Pacheco‘s most recent short film, “Vatn” (the Icelandic word for water), offers stunning views of Iceland’s oceans, rivers and waterfalls, made with the Canon 5d Mark II, Canon 600D, and Canon and Carl Zeiss glass.
Shot and edited over a 6-month period, the film employs an interesting narrative structure that personifies water and makes it the film’s protagonist. “Human beings are the antagonists,” Pacheco said of the film, in an interview published on his Web site. “We are changing the life cycle of water. This film is for water conservation. Instead of talking about water, I decided to personify water, give it voice, so we can hear it.”
Roger Ballen, known for his dark, unsettling photography, has brought his esthetic to the “I Fink U Freeky” video he recently directed for the South African hip-hop band Die Antwoord. The result, which has been widely circulated via social media, is a creepy but visually compelling freak show. Ballen recently explained to Phaidon that he shot photographs for the band about three years ago. They asked him to shoot a music video, which he was happy to do. “We started with my photographs for ideas and then mimicked them in the sets. Most of the sets started with almost like a ‘Roger Ballen still life’ and then we might have added in a mouth or foot or hand and then we went into them cinematically,” he told Phaidon.
This video by NPR was honored in the video category of the 2011 PDN Photo Annual. NPR Music’s Project Song challenges musicians to write and record a song in
just two days, then records the results. David Gilkey, John Poole, Bob Boilen and Neil Tevault produced the video.
Moby and collaborator Kelli Scarr finished writing their song so quickly, they wound up recording three different versions of “Gone to Sleep.”
The 2012 PDN Photo Annual is now accepting entries in 12 categories, including video, web sites, photo books, advertising, photojournalism and more. To learn about prizes, the panel of judges, rules, deadlines (avoid the late fee and enter soon!) or to upload your entries, visit www.pdnphotoannual.com.
Nikon handed photographer and video maker Corey Rich a prototype of the new Nikon D4 and assigned him to create a short feature that would demonstrate the DSLR’s full 1080p HD video capabilities, before the camera goes on sale in February. With no restrictions on what he could shoot, Rich decided to focus on action sports. His seven-and-half minute video, titled “Why,” footage of kayakers and mountain bikers in action, as well as interviews with some action sports fanatics. Rich says the sweeping helicopter footage is thanks to Michael Hagadorn, a pilot who fashioned a special rig for the camera. (You can see Rich’s acknowledgements and a full list of crew members on Vimeo.)
To read PDN’s report on the Nikon D4, see our preliminary hands-on review and our coverage of hot cameras from the CES/PMA 2012 trade show last week.