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September 24th, 2014

New Forest Service Directive on Still Photos Worries Reporters, First Amendment Activists

Proposed changes to United States Forest Service rules for photographers and videographers have some first amendment groups concerned that journalists could be required to obtain permits and pay up to $1,500 in fees to photograph within national forests, according to a report by The Oregonian.

The Oregonian quotes first amendment groups and politicians who are expressing concern about a vaguely worded directive, which could be interpreted to require special permits for all uses other than breaking news situations. Other news situations would appear to require a permit, The Oregonian says.

According to current land use requirements, special permits are  required for “use of still photographic equipment on National Forest System lands that takes place at a location where members of the public generally are not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely, or uses models, sets, or props that are not a part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.”

Special permits are also required currently for the “use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, or any other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of models, actors, sets, or props, but not including activities associated with broadcasting breaking news.”

The proposed directive “would make permanent guidelines for the acceptance and denial for still photography and commercial filming permits in congressionally designated wilderness areas,” according to US government website Federal Register.

The new guidelines for granting a special use permit ask that applicants meet several requirements. Applicants should be promoting wilderness and outdoor activities, be doing work that doesn’t damage the environment or get in the way of the general public, and shouldn’t use vehicles or other machinery, among other requirements.

The Oregonian article stirring up some furor argues that “a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.”

Maybe. The Forest Service’s special use requirements appear to be targeted at commercial photographers, not journalists engaged in legitimate news gathering. But The Oregonian report did make one rather interesting point: The maximum fee for permits is $1500, while the maximum potential fine for violating the requirements is $1000. So yes, it’s potentially cheaper to break the rules and pay the fine.

Those who wish to comment on the proposed directive on still photography and commercial filming permits can do so here.

September 17th, 2014

The 50,000 Euro Controversy Over Artistic Freedom and the Carmignac Gestion Prize

carmignac-pageNewsha Tavakolian, the Tehran-based photojournalist who won the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award, announced last week that she will return the 50,000 Euro prize, due to “irreconcilable differences over the presentation of my work.” Tavakolian claims Edouard Carmignac, head of the Carmignac Gestion investment bank which funds the Carmignac Foundation and the photojournalism prize, edited her work and changed its title “in ways that were simply not acceptable to me.” In a statement sent to PDN, a spokesperson for the Carmignac Foundation claims the organization has “postponed” planned exhibitions and the publication of Tavakolian’s work to protect the photographer and her family from threats from the Iranian government.

Created in 2009, the Carmignac Gestion photojournalism award “aims to support photojournalists who find themselves working on the front line of different situations.” Selected by a jury of photographers, curators and editors, the prize winner receives 50,000 Euros to complete a project, exhibitions in Paris and elsewhere, and the publication of a book. Previous winners of the Carmignac Gestion prize have included Kai Wiedenhoefer and Davide Monteleone. Tavakolian is the first woman awarded the prize.

Though Tavakolian was selected the 2014 winner in November of last year, her identity was kept confidential due to security concerns while she worked on her project in Iran, according to the Carmignac Foundation. She delivered images to the Foundation in July; her win was announced that month at the Recontres D’Arles photo festival.

On September 11, Tavakolian posted on her Facebook page a statement saying that she was returning the money because of disagreements with Edouard Carmignac.

“Unfortunately…from the moment I delivered the work, Mr. Carmignac insisted on personally editing my photographs as well as altering the accompanying texts to the photographs. Mr. Carmignac’s interference in the project culminated in choosing an entirely unacceptable title for my work that would undermine my project irredeemably.” Tavakolian says she titled the project, which depicts everyday life in Iran, “Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album,” but in announcing the prize, the Carmignac Foundation called it “The Lost Generation,” a title Tavakolian calls “overused and loaded” and “unnecessarily controversial.” She said in her Facebook statement that in her emails to Carmignac, “I tried to convince him that as the creator of this project, I am entitled to my artistic freedom. Whilst I absolutely welcome other points of view, I cannot accept that anyone other than myself should have the final say about my work. But at no point would he accept this as my right.”

Tavakolian told PDN on she had contacted the Foundation to arrange the transfer of funds to their account.

A spokesperson sent PDN a statement from the Carmignac Foundation that says Tavakolian had changed the project she had originally proposed to the jury. According to the foundation, Tavakolian “notified the Foundation of specific and significant risks posed to her own safety, and that of her family, and expressed her intention to tone down and shift the focus of her proposed ‘Burnt Generation’ project that had been selected by the Jury.

“Under these circumstances, the Foundation made the difficult decision to postpone the project rather than accept such a change, which it felt would have distorted the Award’s mission without necessarily guaranteeing the safety of its winner.”

Tavakolian told PDN via email, “The reaction from the Carmignac Foundation is a clear manipulation of the truth.” She considers the mention of safety issues “a threat” from Carmignac, she says.

“The issue at hand here is my right for artistic freedom and Mr. Carmignac’s misplaced ambition to edit, alter, and change my project, including the title to his own liking. I do not need Mr. Carmignac’s ‘protection’ as he prefers to call this drama. I have been working in Iran for 15 years and have faced many problems, but solved them myself and managed to tell the story. What [I] need from him is simple: my artistic freedom and the right to have the final say over my own project.”

Though one of Tavokolian’s images remains on the Carmignac Foundation website, exhibitions of her work have been canceled, the Foundation statement says.

Davide Monteleone, last year’s winner, served on the jury that selected Tavakolian for the 2014 prize. He says when he turned in the project on Chechnya he shot with the Carmignac Gestion prize, he worked only with artistic director Nathalie Gallon. “I had no interference from Mr. Carmignac.” Monteleone says his book and exhibition “are exactly the way I wanted them to be. I think for such a prize, this is the only way it should be.”

The Carmignac Foundation is continuing with plans to offer the prize in 2015, this time supporting works on the theme of “lawless areas in France.”

September 3rd, 2014

Mary F. Calvert Wins $25,000 Women’s Initiative Grant

From "Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans." © Mary F. Calvert

From “Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans” © Mary F. Calvert

Photographer Mary F. Calvert has won the Alexia Foundation’s 2014 Women’s Initiative Grant to fund her project called “Missing in Action: Homeless Female Veterans,” the foundation announced this morning. Calvert was a finalist for the $25,000 grant last year, when it was initiated by the Alexia Foundation to support photojournalism projects about issues affecting women.

The Alexia Foundation says Calvert explained in her grant proposal that female veterans are the fastest growing segment of the US homeless population, and are four times more likely than civilian women to become homeless because of health issues, and psychological and economic stress. Those issues are often exacerbated by the strains of parenthood. But the Department of Veteran’s affairs is ill-equipped to address the needs of female veterans, according to critics.

“Mary Calvert’s project on homeless female veterans in Los Angeles qualifies as the poster story for our mission statement,” Alexia Foundation co-founder Aphrodite Tsairis said on the foundation’s blog. “The stark emotion evoked in her images promises to deliver the raw naked truth about a neglected segment in the military.”

Calvert’s work will focus on homeless female veterans in the Los Angeles area. She will explore the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations to provide services, as well as “put a human face on this neglected crisis” by allowing women to tell their stories in their own voices, according to the Alexia Foundation.

As a condition of the grant, Calvert is expected to submit a project portfolio of at least 60 images by March 1, 2015. The Alexia Foundation expects to assist her in creating a multimedia production of the finished work, according to communications director Eileen Mignoni.

Mignoni says the Alexia Foundation received 400 applications for the Women’s Initiative Grant this year. The foundation’s nine-member Photojournalism Advisory Council selected the winner. The advisory council members include Jim Dooley, Brian Storm, Ed Kashi, Ami Vitale, Pim Van Hemmen, Huang Wen, Whitney Johnson, Aidan Sullivan and Lacy Austin.

Related Articles:
Anatomy of a  Successful Grant Application: Tim Matsui on the Women’s Initiative Grant (for PDN subscribers)

Tim Matsui Wins Alexia Foundation Women’s Initiative Grant

September 3rd, 2014

Russian Photojournalist Missing in Eastern Ukraine Confirmed Dead

Andrei Stenin, 33, a photographer with the Russian state agency RIA Novosti, who had been reported missing in the eastern Ukraine August 5, has been found dead, his agency confirmed today. In a statement, Dmitry Kiselev, the head of RIA Novosti, said Stenin had been traveling in a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians fleeing the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.  “His car was hit by shots and it had been burnt on the road close to Donetsk,” a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels where Stenin had been reporting before he disappeared. An autopsy confirmed a body found in the car was Stenin’s.

After his disappearance, RIA Novosti published a report, based on an anonymous source, that Stenin was being held by the Ukrainian security service (SBU). Though SBU denied the allegation, RIA Novosti, Russian media organizations and international press freedom groups around the world had advocated for his release. Kisolev told press today, “It turns out he was not a prisoner, he has been dead a month.”

The Russian foreign ministry called on Ukraine’s government to conduct a “thorough and unbiased investigation into the murder of Andrei Stenin and severely punish those responsible.”

Related article
Photographer Reported Missing in Eastern Ukraine

 

August 28th, 2014

Want to Buy a Drink for the Photographer Who Delivered James Foley’s Last Letter?

www.davidbrabyn.com/buy-daniel-rye-a-beer

www.davidbrabyn.com/buy-daniel-rye-a-beer

After the murder of journalist James Foley by his captors in Syria, his parents released to the public their last communication from him. Because all of Foley’s letters were confiscated by his captors, he asked a fellow captive to commit to memory a letter for his family.

Photojournalist Daniel Rye Ottosen (known professionally as Daniel Rye) had been kidnapped in May 2013 by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and was held with Foley for 13 months. When he was released in June, he called Foley’s parents and dictated the letter from memory. Foleys thanked him “from the bottom of our hearts” on the Free James Foley Facebook page where they shared the letter.

When photojournalist David Brabyn, a friend of Foley’s, heard about Rye’s message, he recalls, “I thought, what a thing to do! I wish I could buy him a drink.” Brabyn figured out a way to do that, and he’s offering others a way to thank Rye, too.

Brabyn has set up the Buy Daniel Rye a Beer web page, with a Pay Pal account where people can chip in beer money. (In addition to being a photographer, Brabyn is also a website consultant at digitaltechparis, and has experience at charity fundraising:  He and Foley worked together organizing the Friends of Anton benefit photo auction, which raised over $135,000 for the children of photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed in Libya when Foley was captured and detained the first time, in 2011, along with two other journalists.)

Brabyn got in touch with a friend of Rye’s who will make sure someone picks up the photographer’s bar tabs while the funds last; friends who treat Rye will be reimbursed from the money collected through the website. Brabyn acknowledges that Rye may have need for more than beer, but says the Buy Daniel Rye a Beer effort is simply a way to say thanks. “This isn’t about turning his life around. It’s just a friendly gesture from people who think he did something great,” Brabyn says. “If he wants to order wine or anything other than beer, that’s fine.”

Given the number of people around the world who have been touched by the letter Rye delivered, there might be a lot of people thanking him. “I think what he did is an astonishing achievement: to be locked up in terrible conditions, in a war zone, for so long and yet manage to memorize this long text,” Brabyn notes. “On top of that feat of the mind, he delivered this moving letter that is obviously so hugely meaningful to Jim’s family.”

Related articles

Danish Photojournalist Released After 13 Months in Captivity

Print Sales, Web Site to Benefit Anton Hammerl’s Children

August 22nd, 2014

Yale Research Group Launches Fascinating Search Platform for 170k FSA-OWI Images

Image caption: Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 6.32.37 PM

An image of the Photogrammar’s map tool, which visualizes the quantities of images FSA-OWI photographers made in regions around the country.

A group of researchers at Yale created “a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”

The platform, which they’re calling Photogrammar, allows people to use visual tools to search through the digitized photographs from the FSA-OWI archive, which is housed at the Library of Congress. The map tool, for instance, allows users to see the quantity of images made in regions across the United States. One can also use the map to trace the work of individual photographers such as Dorothea Lange, John Collier and Marion Post Wolcott, and see where they worked and produced the most images.

The Treemap, another visualization, uses colored blocks of different sizes to show the number of images of different types FSA-OWI photographers produced in different category topics. Users can drill down into subtopics of the category topics.

The Photogrammar also features a more traditional keyword-driven search function.

Explore the Photogrammar site here. But fair warning: it will suck you in.

Related: 14 Rare Color Photos From the FSA-OWI

August 19th, 2014

Getty Images Photographer Arrested While Covering Ferguson Protests

Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was arrested yesterday while on assignment in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests and clashes with police continue after the police shooting of a African-American teenager more than a week ago. Oslon has since been released, according to a Yahoo News report.

Getty confirmed his arrest in a statement today from Pancho Bernasconi, VP, News at the agency. “We strongly object to [Olson's] arrest and are committed to ensuring he is able to resume his important work of capturing some of the most iconic images of this news story,” Bernasconi said in the statement.

The protests started in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed African American teenager, by a white police officer. Police have cracked down hard on the protesters, drawing strong criticism for violation of the protesters’ civil rights, and attracting intense national media coverage.

Olson has been covering the story for several days. A gallery of his images from Ferguson, along with a photograph of police placing him under arrest, has been posted by The Guardian.

According to the Yahoo News report, Olson was one of several journalists among 31 people who were arrested yesterday. At least two other journalists–Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of Huffington Post–were detained previously. Bot were later released. Lowrey had been recording police with a video camera shortly before his arrest.

August 14th, 2014

Philly Paper Swaps Ferguson Riot Photo: Did It Do the Right Thing?

Reading a Philadelphia Magazine report about the decision by editors at the Philadelphia Daily News to change a cover photo in response to some outrage on social media left us wondering:  Did photo editors at the Philadelphia Daily News change their minds because they thought they’d made a mistake? Or did they change their minds to avoid controversy and public outcry?

philly DN covers_555

The Philadelphia Daily News cover in question (above, left) featured a photo from Ferguson, Missouri that showed a protestor about to hurl a burning Molotov cocktail gas canister at police. Protests began in Ferguson over the weekend, after police shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. The protests began peacefully, and have remained mostly peaceful, but some violence and looting have erupted, and police have been widely criticized for their iron-fisted and highly militarized response to all protestors.

Against that backdrop, the Daily News published a cover photo of a protestor with the Molotov cocktail burning canister over the headline, “Hell Breaks Loose.” The photo drew immediate and harsh criticism on Twitter: Readers said the image could be taken to suggest that the (mostly white) police response was justified because the (mostly black) protestors were being so violent. In response the Daily News put out another edition of the paper with a different photo.

The second cover photo shows a distraught-looking female protestor, holding up a sign demanding answers from police about the shooting of Michael Brown. Police in riot gear can be seen lined up behind the protestor. The Daily News did not change the headline.

And that leads to some larger questions about photo editing in the social media age: Should editors show deference to the instant opinions on Twittering readers, on the theory that input from the public leads to more informed picture choices? Or does deference to the instant opinions on social media undermine photo editors by encouraging readers to constantly demand changes and retractions on coverage of controversial or sensitive topics?

Philadelphia Magazine published Tweets from Daily News readers, followed by a Tweet from a Daily News senior writer who wrote, “Based on reader reaction we’re changing our front page image — so we actually do listen.” That was followed by a Tweet from Daily News assistant city editor David Lee Preston that said: “Big takeaway from tonight should be that a bunch of pros with hearts & souls inhabit this newsroom.”

But it remains unclear why the Daily News changed the cover photo: Did they think they’d made a mistake? Or were they simply bowing to pressure from some angry readers?

Regardless of their motives, we throw open the floor to PDN readers: Did the Daily News make a mistake publishing the Molotov cocktail-throwing protestor? Should the paper have changed the cover photo? Should photo editors let social media reaction influence their decisions, and if so, to what extent?

Note: Earlier version of this story described the burning object in the protester’s hand as a “Molotov cocktail.” Readers noted it was a burning gas canister. We changed it.  In this case, we listened to readers on social media, too.

August 14th, 2014

Judge Upholds $1.2 Million Verdict in Morel v. AFP Copyright Case

A federal judge has upheld a $1.2 million jury award in favor of photographer Daniel Morel, after determining that there was sufficient evidence presented at the trial last year to support the verdict.

Morel won $1.2 million in damages after a federal jury determined that Getty and AFP willfully violated his copyrights by uploading eight of his exclusive news images of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and distributing them without his permission. The award also included an additional $20,000 damages for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Getty and AFP had appealed the $1.2 million award on the grounds that there was not enough evidence presented at the trial to establish willful copyright infringement. They had asked the court to vacate the jury’s finding of willful infringement, reduce the award to Morel, or grant a new trial.

A federal judge rejected the appeal.

“There was evidence from which the jury could have concluded that the defendant’s infringement (and particularly AFP’s) was not just willful but reflected a gross disregard for the rights of copyright holders,” US District Court Judge Alison Nathan wrote in a decision handed down yesterday. She added, “In light of all the consideration that the jury was entitled to consider, [reduction] of the $1.2 million statutory damages award is not required.

“The evidence was plainly sufficient for the jury to conclude that AFP’s infringement was willful under either an actual knowledge or reckless disregard theory,” Nathan said. She said the evidence for willfulness on Getty’s part was “somewhat thin” in comparison to the evidence against AFP. But she went on to say that the evidence of Getty’s willfulness “was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.”

Morel had uploaded his images to Twitter, offering to license them to news outlets. The images were stolen and re-distributed by another Twitter account holder. Judge Nathan cited evidence presented at trial that Vincent Amalvy, AFP’s  Director of Photography for the Americas,  knew or should have known that the images were actually Morel’s, and that AFP didn’t have permission to distribute them.

The evidence against Getty for willful infringement was that it left Morel’s images on its web site under a false credit for more than two weeks after AFP sent a “kill notice” telling Getty to remove the images.

The award was the maximum amount of statutory damages possible under the law.

AFP and Getty had asked the court to reduce the $1.2 million award on the grounds that it was based on a “speculative” figure of actual damages amounting to $275,000 in lost sales. Judge Nathan said that on the basis of actual downloads (1,000 or more) of the image and sale prices, the actual damage estimate was reasonable. But she went on to say that juries aren’t required in any case to base statutory awards on actual damage estimates.

She also rejected arguments that the $1.2 million statutory award was “instinsically excessive.” Noting that courts defer to the prerogative of juries to set damage awards and rarely set them aside unless they “shock the judicial conscience and constitute of denial of justice,” Nathan said AFP’s actions in particular could be seen as “gross disregard for the rights of copyright holders” and let the jury award stand.

At the same time, Nathan upheld a $10,000 jury award against AFP for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations, while vacating a $10,000 award for DMCA violations against Getty.

The DMCA makes it unlawful to intentionally remove or alter copyright management information, or to knowingly provide or distribute false copyright management information with intent to conceal infringement.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Vincent Amalvy, the AFP Director of Photography, knew that Morel’s images were falsely credited to another Twitter user, but  distributed the pictures with the false credit anyway, Judge Nathan wrote in her decision.

Getty violated the DMCA by continuing to distribute the images under a false credit, after receiving notice from AFP to remove the images, the judge said. But Getty was not liable under a DMCA provision for distributing the images with knowledge before the fact that the image credits had been illegally altered.

Related Articles:

Morel v. AFP Copyright Verdict: Defense Strategy to Devalue Photos and Vilify Photographer Backfires

Jury Awards Daniel Morel $1.2 Million in Damages from AFP, Getty Images

August 13th, 2014

AP Photographer Injured in Gaza Explosion that Killed Videojournalist, Translator

The Associated Press (AP) reports that video journalist Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were killed this morning when an ordinance exploded in Gaza in the town of Beit Labiya. Hatem Moussa, an AP photographer was “badly injured” in the blast. AP spokesperson Paul Colford says, “Hatem is being treated for his injuries.”

The unexploded ordinance was believed to have been dropped during recent airstrikes by Israel in Gaza. Gaza police engineers were trying to deactivate the explosive when it blew up. Three police engineers were killed in the explosion, along with the journalists.

For more details, including information on the careers of Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, see AP’s story.

Related articles
Photographer Killed in Israeli Airstrike in Gaza