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December 19th, 2014

Project on Ukraine Wins $20,000 2015 Aftermath Grant

Justyna Mielnikiewicz has won the 2015 Aftermath Project Grant for “A Ukraine Runs Through It,” a project exploring tensions in modern Ukraine using Dnieper River as a symbolic dividing line. The $20,000 grant, offered by the nonprofit Aftermath Project, supports documentary photography that addresses the legacy of conflict.

The Aftermath Project also announced several finalists, whose work will be published in War Is Only Half the Story, the annual publication of the Aftermath Project. The finalists are:

Bruno Boudjelal, whose project, “Mapping of Massacre Sites in Algeria,” explores the sites of massacres that occurred in 1997 and 1998.

Glenna Gordon for her project, “Artifacts of a Kidnapping: The Things They Carried Home,” a survey of the objects brought home by ransomed kidnapping victims of terrorist groups around the world.

Adam Patterson for “Men and My Daddy,” a project on Northern Ireland, exploring how former terrorists function during peacetime and whether aging ex-paramilitaries find purpose in their lives.

Donald Weber for”War Sand,” a landscape and archeological project about the beaches of Normandy, which still contain particles of shrapnel from the 1944 D-Day invasion of  France during World War II.

A special discretionary grant of $2,500 was given to buy gear for two Syrian refugee teenagers, who have been photographing their lives of Syrians in refugee camps. The money will be administered by photographer Brendan Bannon, who has run UNHCR-sponsored arts education programs for children in refugee camps.

The judges for the 2015 grant were Denise Wolff of Aperture; Amy Pereira of MSNBC; Stephen Mayes, Executive Director of the Tim Hetherington Trust; Elizabeth Rappaport, photographer and Aftermath Project board member;  and Sara Terry, photographer and founder of the Aftermath Project.

Related articles:
Post-9/11 War Business Project Wins 2014 Aftermath Project Grant

Stanley Greene Wins 2013 Aftermath Grant

Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Andrew Lichtenstein’s Aftermath Grant

December 18th, 2014

Police Intimidation Watch: Photographer Wins $1.1 Million for Malicious Prosecution

A New York woman who was arrested and jailed for four days after photographing an Air National Guard base from a public thoroughfare was awarded $1.1 million in compensatory damages by a federal jury last week.

Nancy Genovese sued the town of Southampton, New York, the Suffolk County sheriff’s department and several individual officers in 2010, alleging violations of her constitutional rights, assault, battery, false arrest, use of unreasonable and excessive force, and malicious prosecution.

In a trial that concluded December 11, jurors concluded that Suffolk County sheriff’s deputy Robert Carlock had maliciously prosecuted Genovese. But Genovese failed to prove that Carlock had initiated criminal proceedings because of her political associations. Therefore, the jury found that Carlock was not liable for violating Genovese’s First Amendment right of free speech.

Although jurors reached agreement on the $1.1 million award for compensatory damages, they were unable to reach a unanimous decision on punitive damages, so deliberations are continuing.

According to court papers, Genovese was driving home in July, 2009 past the Gabreski Airport Air National Guard base in Suffolk County (Long Island) when she stopped her car to photograph a helicopter on display in front of the base. Genovese made the photograph from inside her car, intending to post the photo on a “Support Our Troops” website.

As she was preparing to drive away, a Southampton, New York police officer approached her and asked what she was doing. Genovese explained what she was photographing, tried to show the officer the images on her camera’s LCD, and then ended up giving the officer her camera card to protect her camera, which the officer was treating roughly, according to Genovese’s lawsuit.

At that point, the Southampton police officer ordered Genovese to remain where she was, and called the county sheriff’s department to report Genovese’s presence outside the base, “falsely and wrongly informing” the sheriff’s department that Genovese “posed a terrorist threat,” she said in her claim.

Authorities from the FBI, Homeland Security, the ANG base, and the local police and sheriff’s department rushed to the scene. Genovese was questioned on the roadside for “five or six hours.” She alleged that her car was searched without her consent, and because she had just come from a local shooting range, authorities found an AR 15 rifle, as well as a shotgun and ammunition, in her car. Southampton police seized the guns, which were legally registered, according to court papers.

According to the suit, Suffolk sheriff’s deputy Carlock said to Genovese, “You’re a right winger, aren’t you?” He and another unidentified officer proceeded to taunt Genovese, repeatedly referring to her as a “right winger” and “tea bagger” and allegedly threatening to arrest her for terrorism “to make an example of her to other ‘tea baggers.’”

After hours of questioning, federal authorities concluded that Genovese wasn’t a security threat. After they left the scene, however, an unidentified sheriff’s deputy handcuffed Genovese, and transported her to jail, where Carlock allegedly told her that although authorities “had nothing to charge her with,” they would “find something in order to teach all right wingers and tea baggers a lesson.”

She was charged later that night with “terrorism,” and arraigned the next day on criminal trespass charges. Bail was set at $50,000 because of sheriff’s “inflammatory accusations” that she was a terrorist and a flight risk, she alleges in her lawsuit.

Genovese spent four days in the county jail, until she was finally able to raise the money for her bail. While in jail, she alleges, deputies continued to taunt her, subject her to sleep deprivation, deny her medical care for a leg injury that became infected, and instigate alarmist media coverage by releasing to reporters false information about Genovese and the circumstances of her arrest.

The criminal trespass charges against Genovese were dismissed in November, 2009. She filed suit on July 29, 2010.

In her lawsuit, she alleged violation of her First Amendment right of free speech, as well as violations of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments rights of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. She also claimed she was subject to fear and terror, humiliation, degradation, physical pain and emotional distress.

In 2013, a federal judge dismissed Genovese’s claims against the town of Southampton and its police officers. The judge ruled that the Southampton police officer who originally stopped Genovese had probable cause to do so; that the officer didn’t use excessive force; and that Southampton police seized a gun in her car “under a lawful exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment” because it was in plain view insider her car. Therefore, the court said, Southampton police did not violate her constitutional rights.

The judge also dismissed false arrest claims against Suffolk County sheriffs, on the grounds that they acted on the “probable cause” determination of Southampton police. But the court declined to dismiss Genovese’s malicious prosecution claims against Carlock and the sheriff’s department, clearing the way for the trial, which began December 8 and lasted for three days.

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December 9th, 2014

Obituary: LIFE Photographer Ralph Morse, 97

Photographer Ralph Morse, who covered war, sports, science, celebrities, theater, and other assignments during his long career as a staff photographer for LIFE and TIME magazines, died December 7 at his home in Florida. He was 97.

Morse’s death was reported yesterday by TIME magazine, which said on its website that “no photographer in the history of LIFE magazine had a more varied, thrilling and productive career.” Morse became LIFE’s youngest World War II correspondent when he joined the magazine in 1941 at the age of 24.

He covered the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and later on, the liberation of Paris in 1944 and the surrender of Germany at Reims in 1945. After the war, Morse covered a wide range of assignments for LIFE, beginning with Broadway and the London theater, and eventually sports, science and technology, and other subjects.

Besides the major events of World War II, Morse was witness to other historic moments of the 20th century. TIME describes his iconic shot of Jackie Robinson “one of the greatest baseball photographs ever made.” Morse also photographed Babe Ruth’s farewell at Yankee Stadium, Einstein’s funeral, the Ali-Liston fight, and other events.

According to TIME, Morse was the first civilian to fly on a Strategic Air Command B-47 Stratojet, a nuclear bomber developed during the Cold War. He was also the first to shoot color photographs of the caves of Lascaux. He also covered NASA’s Mercury space flight program.

He remained a staff photographer for LIFE magazine until it folded in 1972, then joined TIME magazine. He retired in 1988, and told John Leongard, author of LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, that he sold all his cameras and and stopped taking photographs to avoid “everybody and his brother” asking him to photograph their weddings.

December 8th, 2014

Luke Somers, Killed in Failed Rescue Attempt, Remembered for Compassionate Photos

© Luke Somers for Al Jazeera. Thousands of male and female protesters marched to the residence of President And Mansour Hadi to demand political reforms, December 7, 2012.

© Luke Somers for Al Jazeera. Thousands of male and female protesters marched to the residence of President And Mansour Hadi to demand political reforms, December 7, 2012.

Kidnapped photojournalist Luke Somers was killed December 5 in the midst of a failed attempt by US forces to rescue him from al Qaeda militants holding him hostage in Yemen. Somers, 33,  had been kidnapped in Sana’a, Yemen, in September 2013. He had been working in the country as a freelance photographer.

After President Barack Obama announced Somers’s death on Saturday, several news outlets that Somers had worked for, including Al Jazeera, and his agency, Corbis, shared samples of his photos, starting with images from Yemen’s revolution ousting President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. Writer Tik Root of National Public Radio, who had crossed paths with Somers while they were covering Yemen, said the photographer’s work “reveals his deep and persistent love for the country.”

Last week, the photographer’s captors released a video threatening to kill Somers if the US did not meet their unspecified demands. According to CNN, The Yemen Times and other news outlets had pleaded for Somers’s release, noting days before his death that he “loves Yemen.”

Citing an anonymous source, BBC reports that Navy SEALs had tried to rescue Somers from the compound where he was being held, but a gunfight broke out when the militants spotted the SEALs. Somers was shot, and then evacuated to a US navy ship, where he died.  Committee to Protect Journalists reports that this is the third attempt by US special forces to rescue hostages held in Syria and Yemen; all three failed to rescue captured journalists.

December 8th, 2014

How Photographer Stephen Crowley Works Around White House Photo Ops

A little Washington drama: Bill Clinton keeps Barack Obama waiting at a White House photo op. ©Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

A little political drama: Bill Clinton keeps Barack Obama waiting at a White House photo op in September. ©Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

New York Times photographer Stephen Crowley, an astute, keen-eyed observer of Washington politics, explains in an interview appearing in this month’s edition of PDN how he built his career working around obstacles to access. “They have their stage,” he says of politicians and their handlers. “I’m content to walk behind the cavalcade and observe.”

His series of images (above) of a September 19 meeting between President Barack Obama and ever-popular former President Bill Clinton is a case in point. Clinton was invited to the White House to celebrate the anniversary of AmeriCorps, a volunteer program his administration launched in 1994. It was supposed to be a feel-good photo op for Obama, whose ratings are low. But the mutual dislike between Obama and Clinton is no secret, and it wasn’t far from Crowley’s mind. He picks up the story from there:

“[They were] walking back to the oval office, right along a rope line. I was on a high ladder, missing that picture. Obama was working the rope line, then he walked off, and thought Clinton was with him. But Clinton was slowly working the rope line, making the President of the United States wait for him. And Obama was standing off by himself. He puts on his jacket, walks [back toward the rope line], and he’s still waiting for Clinton. That’s a gem of a moment. I made a whole sequence [out of it].”

Crowley notes there’s an element of street photography in his approach. “I had a lot of experience in Florida”–at the Palm Beach Post, where he started his career–”doing street photography. You went out and looked for features. I came up here [to Washington] and translated that, and it’s been an effective way of telling the story, pulling away from the press conferences.”

For more about Crowley, his approach to covering politics, and his alternative take on the controversy over diminished access by photographers to the Oval Office, see our interview in this month’s PDN.

December 4th, 2014

PDN Video Pick: A Spotlight on Underage Victims of the Illegal Sex Trade

(click “Play All” option for a two-minute trailer for the web version; click “Theatrical Version” to launch a 2:45 introduction to that version.)

Seattle photographer Tim Matsui and MediaStorm have just released The Long Night, a documentary film about teenage victims of illegal sex trade in King County, Washington. Matsui has focused on stories about sexual violence and human trafficking for more than a decade, and his new film is part of his multi-pronged project called “Leaving the Life.”

“I see the film as a broad audience outreach tool; it builds awareness,” he says, with hopes that it also serves as a catalyst for community dialogue.  His ultimate goal, he says, is to facilitate “a shift in cultural and institutional norms.”

He explains, “Some of the solutions lie in harm reduction, criminal justice reform, and police training,” to treat underage prostitutes as victims rather than criminals. “Others [solutions] are more generational: Are we teaching our daughters to be strong and self confident? Are we showing our sons how to respect and value women?”

Support for The Long Night included a $25,000 Women’s Initiative Fund grant awarded to Matsui by the Alexia Foundation in 2012. The Alexia foundation also provided post-production funding to MediaStorm.

The film is available in two versions: a 70-minute “theatrical release,” and a web version that’s presented in a series of short chapters. “We felt that breaking it down into components makes it a little more usable” to viewers who often can’t or won’t sit through an hour-long video online, says MediaStorm principal Brian Storm.

Both versions are available free-of-charge through December 7. The theatrical release is available on Matsui’s website; the web version is at MediaStorm.  After December 7, MediaStorm will charge a fee for the theatrical version, which will be available only on MediaStorm’s Vimeo feed. The fee, to be determined, will help defray production costs, Storm says. The web version will continue to be available for free on MediaStorm’s website.

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

November 12th, 2014

Forest Service Chief Says Journalists Don’t Need Permits to Photograph in National Forests

When the United States Forest Service released a vaguely worded directive that suggested journalists would have to pay up to $1500 for a permit to photograph or film in national forests, photographers and first amendment activists were alarmed. The controversial directive, issued as a draft in September, was first reported by The Oregonian newspaper.

Following the outcry, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell has clarified the USFS’s position with regard to photography and film for journalistic purposes, rather than commercial use. In a letter written to Forest Service officials, sent on November 4, he said the clarification was needed because “considerable response” from the public “raised significant concerns beyond the intended scope of the directive.”

“News coverage on NFS lands is protected by the Constitution, and it is our responsibility to safeguard this right on the lands we manage for all Americans,” Tidwell wrote.

He outlined how USFS officials should differentiate between journalism and other activities: “The following question should be asked: Is the primary purpose of the filming activity to inform the public, or is it to sell a product for a profit? If the primary purpose is to inform the public, then no permit is required and no fees assessed.”

Tidwell clarified USFS’s position with regard to commercial film and photography. “Permit fees should be primarily viewed as land-use fees. If the activity presents no more impact on the land than that of the general public, then it shall be exempt from permit requirements.”

Read the full text of Tidwell’s letter here.

Via The Oregonian.

November 4th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: Gerd Ludwig’s Tips on Shooting in Low Light

Gerd Ludwig dips into his bag of tricks at PhotoPlus Expo 2014 © Matthew Ismael Ruiz

Gerd Ludwig dips into his bag of tricks at PhotoPlus Expo 2014 © Matthew Ismael Ruiz

During his PhotoPlus Expo seminar, “Digital Vision in Low Light,” the photographer Gerd Ludwig offered a peek behind the curtain at the tools and techniques he uses to make National Geographic-worthy images under terrible conditions. The veteran photographer spoke for two hours about the ways he uses small strobes and long exposures as well as rapport with subjects to make the images he captures in Russia and the Ukraine for NatGeo, his book Broken Empire, and his Chernobyl iPad app, The Long Shadow of Chernobyl.

One of the first things Ludwig shared was that he had never had an image published in National Geographic that was shot at a speed higher than ISO 500. He often shoots at night—or in the case of a sarcophagus he photographed at Chernobyl, in pitch darkness—but darkness isn’t the only reason Ludwig likes to use strobes. Harsh fluorescent lighting can make for hideous color tone, something he would regularly encounter in Russia.

“The Russian fluorescent lights are the worst in the world,” Ludwig explains. “They’re very green.” He would use strobes to counteract the sickly green glow, often attaching gels to suit his esthetic.

For one famous shot of the control room of reactor #4 at Chernobyl, he revealed the secret to the dramatic lighting that seemed to emanate from within the control panel: During a long exposure, he and his assistant crouched behind the panel and fired strobes up onto the wall-mounted displays. Again, he used a variety of gels to get the tone of the light just right.

Here are some additional technical nuggets that Ludwig shared during his seminar:

- When shooting in low-light with strobes, Ludwig typically shoots TTL on Aperture Priority, firing his strobes at -1, or -2 1/3 EV.
- Strobes are often more effective when the subject looks away from the light.
- In falling snow, using a wide-angle on the strobe on camera illuminates the snow closest to you, to dramatic effect.
- Using a headlamp can be helpful when working in complete darkness (a trick he used in the sarcophagus at Chernobyl). You can get a red one that isn’t as intense, and during long exposures, you can “paint” your scene with the headlamps to emphasize various elements.
- In a pinch, you can use your hand as a reflector, provided you have light skin.
- You can use the free sample set of gels at your local camera store to make your own flash gels.

Much of Ludwig’s work in Chernobyl focuses not just on the ruins of the plant, but of the people affected by the plant’s meltdown, particularly, the children of victims of contamination from the disaster’s nuclear fallout. The children’s physical condition is difficult to witness—most are permanently disabled by the effects of radiation. But in videos he played of himself taking photographs in the hospital, he engaged the children completely, encouraging them to dance, even crawling under tables to meet them on their own level. In one particularly touching moment, he touches the hand of a blind and deaf boy, sitting on the ground because the boy cannot walk. The boy smiles instantly, and Ludwig returns the favor.

“When shooting underprivileged victims,” Ludwig told his audience, “you have to realize that when you point the camera at them, you temporarily increase their pain.”

 Related Article

PDN Video: Gerd Ludwig on Why He’s Risked His Life at Chernobyl

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.”