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February 12th, 2014

Does The NY Times’ Sochi Photo “Firehose” Do Photogs a Disservice?

Today The New York Times launched a live stream of images from Sochi, which they’re dubbing a “Firehose.” It funnels images by Times photographers and from the paper’s wire service feeds, and evidently there will be roughly 14,000 images per day coming through the, ahem, hose.

The images are running without captions. And while there are many great photographs, there are many others that leave us to guess what’s happening in the image, and which are pretty ho-hum without context (see: athlete celebrating win, for something, who knows what?)

There are good things about the site. It has a simple design and big photos. It’s giving a lot of images that wouldn’t make it into media outlets a run in a central place. And the site is presented by United Airlines, so they aren’t just giving this away. People who love sports pictures and can’t get enough of them can watch them stream by, and so what if there are no captions? Most of them you can figure out. And it’s not as if this replaces galleries of edited and captioned pictures.

But does this diminish not only the perceived value of the images, but also the editorial selection and captioning process at a time when the public perception of photography is that it’s so abundant it’s worth very little? Maybe. The name “Firehose” seems like self-parody, an admission that the flow of images has devalued photography to the point that the Times has decided to just throw up their hands and open the valve.

Perhaps we’re making too much of this? Maybe we should sit back and let the stream wash over us? What you do you think, dear reader?

February 11th, 2014

Barbara Davidson Named 2014 POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Los Angeles Times photographer Barbara Davidson has won Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors in the 2014 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, contest organizers announced this afternoon.

“[T]he judges noted a strong balance of powerful aesthetic with solid journalistic content” in Davidson’s portfolio, POYi organizers said in a prepared statement. Her portfolio included two picture stories: “A Healing Bond,” about a girl from Afghanistan who came to the US for medical treatment; and “LA’s Shooting Season,” about the trauma team at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Runners up for Newspaper Photographer of the Year honors were James Oatway of The Sunday Times (Johannesburg) and Lacy Atkins of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Winners of all the POYi Newspaper Division categories were identified by PDN earlier today.

Meanwhile, POYi judges also selected winners in two Sports Division categories today. They include Alex Goodlett of the Daily Herald (Provo, Utah), who won first prize in the Recreational Sports category; and Daniel Ochoa De Olza won first prize for Sports Picture Story.

Related:
POYi Posts Winning Entries for Its Newspaper Division Contest (And PDN Names the Photographers)

February 11th, 2014

POYi Posts Winning Entries for Its Newspaper Division Contest (And PDN Names the Photographers)

 

©Taslima Akhter

©Taslima Akhter

Taslima Akhter of Bangladesh has won first prize in Spot News category of the Newspaper Division in the Picture of the Year International (POYi) competition, and Niclas Hammarström has won top prize for the General News category.

POYi organizers have not yet announced the names of the winners, pending completion of judging in all divisions and categories of the competition on February 25. But POYi is posting the winning entries on its web site as they are selected, enabling visitors to the site to figure out who they are. (The Newspaper Photographer of the Year entry has not been posted, however.)

Akhter and Hammarström both won prizes for heartbreaking images. Akhter’s image (shown here), called “Final Embrace,” shows two garment workers who died embracing each other in the collapse of a factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh last April. Hammarström’s prize-winning photograph, from Aleppo, Syria, shows the badly burned face of a child.

Other categories and first prize winners for the Newspaper Division include:

Feature Pictures Story: Lacy Atkins (San Francisco Chronicle) for “100 Black Men Community Charter School.” (original story here.)
Issue Reporting Picture Story:  Lisa Krantz (San Antonio Express News) for “Twice Betrayed: Military Sexual Trauma.”
News Picture Story:  Tyler Hicks (The New York Times) for “Massacre at a Kenyan Mall.” (see Lens Blog)
Portrait Series: Sara Brincher Galbiati for “Circus Kids of Kabul.”
Portrait: Magnus Wennman (Aftonbladet) for “Merullah.” (Fourth slide in gallery here.)
Feature: John Stanmeyer for “Signal.” (lead and second image here.)
Natural Disaster: Philippe Lopez (AFP/Getty) for “Philippines Weather Typhoon.

Judging for the POYi Sports Division began yesterday. Mark J. Terrill of Associated Press won first prize for Sports Action for his photograph of welterweight boxer Pablo Cesar Cano landing a punch on the face of opponent Ashley Theophane. Jabin Botsford, a student at Western Kentucky University, won first prize in the Sports Feature for an image he shot at a Kentucky high school cheerleading competition.

Other Sports Division category winners will be selected today and tomorrow. Judging for the Reportage Division (formerly Magazine Division) entries begins on Friday and continues through this weekend. Editing and Multimedia Division entries will be judged next week.

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).

February 5th, 2014

2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers at Sochi is True

(The following op-ed was written by photographer Jeff Cable who is in Sochi, Russia covering the 2014 Winter Olympics. The story originally appeared on Cable’s blog in a slightly different form. You can follow Cable’s experiences at the Winter Olympics on his Facebook page.)

By Jeff Cable

2014_Winter_Olympics_logo.mYou know all those articles that talk about the problems at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? Well, guess what…they are all true.

Yesterday, my day started off great. The drive to the Moscow airport was perfect, with little congestion and Wi-Fi in the taxi. I got to the airport in Moscow and navigated the system really well, running into some friends from Canon, and I even managed to get my camera bag on carry-on this time.

The flight to Sochi was smooth and we arrived early. I got all my luggage, got my credentials blessed at the airport, found the right press bus and I was feeling great.

Then we got to the “hotel” and I use the word loosely.

We arrived at a cluster of 16 buildings that look like dormitories. There was no reception area for us to check in, there was just one building which had a large dirty room with people scrambling to get us situated.

They obviously did not have rooms assigned to anyone as each of us that showed up were given successive hotel rooms, me in 256, the next person in 257, etc. So my new neighbors and I went up to the 4th floor to our rooms and were shocked when we saw our living space.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

Remember, these are brand new buildings! The floors are so filthy that I don’t think they were ever vacuumed after the construction was done. There is almost no furniture in the room, and what is there is almost unusable.

There are small TVs in the rooms, but they do not work. There are no phones in the rooms and worse yet, there is NO Internet at all. No hard wired and no wireless. I am writing this blog from a downstairs common room in a different building (with 15 other pissed off media), and I swear the Internet is running at dial-up speeds.

How is it that a country that spends almost $50 billion on the Olympics can end up with accommodations like this? Seriously, it is embarrassing. If I told you how much I paid for this “hotel room” you would choke.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

The good news is that I do have four walls around me, and I do have a bed. I am not sure if I have hot water yet, since I tried running the sink to get hot water and it didn’t work. I found a lady who looked like she might work here and she told me to let it run for 10 minutes. It might get warm then.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

I visited some friends at the Main Press Center tonight (which is an amazing building, by the way) and they were all laughing about the showers with no shower curtains, the cleaning service which does not exist, and the lack of communications in 20 press buildings.

I even heard a story of one of the guys from the USOC who showed up to his hotel in the mountains, only to find a construction site. So I guess I should be happy to have a room.

©Jeff Cable Photography

©Jeff Cable Photography

Starting in a couple of days, I will spend very little time in this building, as the Olympics will be all consuming. But for now, it is incredibly frustrating.

I would post more photos but the Internet is so bad that myself and 15 other photographers are just trying to post text.

Read Cable’s follow-up post on Sochi here.

February 4th, 2014

Selfie Campaign Protests Jailing of Journalists in Egypt

FreeAJ#StaffGroupTo protest the arrest and imprisonment of members of the Al Jazeera English staff in Cairo, journalists around the world are carrying out a social media campaign that asks: What if all journalists were muzzled? As part of the protest, journalists are posting self-portraits on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook showing themselves with their mouths gagged and taped. Some hold signs demanding the release of the Al Jazeera journalists. They’re posting the images with the hashtag #FreeAJstaff.

On December 29, Egyptian authorities raided the Cairo office of Al Jazeera and arrested four employees. Last week, the government announced it was charging 20 journalists affiliated with the network, including five foreigners, with inciting terrorism and being agents of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ruling party that was ousted from power by the Egyptian military in July. Journalists have been repeatedly attacked since the military took power, according to human rights and press freedom groups.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, other human rights organizations and press freedom groups have called for the immediate dismissal of the charges.

Today CNN International Correspondent Christian Amanpour held a #FreeAJStaff sign on the air.  Journalists in Nairobi have staged a protest outside the Egyptian embassy to demand the release of imprisoned Al Jazeera staffers. Among those who have been detained since December is the Nairobi-based,  Australian-born journalist Peter Greste, the East Africa correspondent for Al Jazeera.

January 27th, 2014

Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

Courtesy of AP Photos

Courtesy of AP Photos

Freelancer Narciso Contreras, a talented war photographer who was cut off by Associated Press last week after he admitted he had Photoshopped a news photo, told PDN in an e-mail interview that he accepts his punishment, but said, “I’m critical when it comes to how the Industry handles the situation with individual photographers, especially when you are a freelancer.”

AP cut ties with Contreras publicly after the photographer informed the wire service that he had removed a video camera from a corner of an image of a Syrian rebel soldier taking cover during a fire fight. Contreras says he knew it could end his relationship with AP, but that he didn’t expect to be shut out of the process.

“I would have preferred to discuss with the editors the whole situation personally, [but] they went behind locked doors and made their decision.” He added, “As a photographer you should have the right to be included in the process.”

Contreras said he thinks AP also went too far in making its decision so public. “The public punishment seems more like an exhibit of power in order to protect [AP's] own interests,” he said.

Following is an edited transcript of PDN’s e-mail interview with Contreras.

Q: How did AP find out you had altered the photo? Did you tell them after they confronted you about it? Or did you voluntarily turn yourself in? And if so, what led you to do that?

A: I told one of the AP photo editors about the picture when we were working on selecting images for the [World Press and other photo] contests some weeks ago. I told the photo editor immediately when I saw the image on the screen. I didn’t hesitate in telling him, it just came up.

Q: If your own ethical principles required you to correct the mistake, why didn’t you tell AP sooner?

A. I was thinking all the time [about] that picture and I found the moment to explain [it] to the AP photo editor. Why not before? [For] the same reason that I submitted the altered picture, it was my wrong decision.

Q. Why were you retouching the image in the first place? Do you typically make the types of adjustments to your image files that AP permits, and if so, what are your usual adjustments?

A: I was conscious about the camera [in the original image] from the beginning. I couldn’t get the camera out of the frame when we were at the top of the hill and running down, away from the [gunfire]. I used a wide angle lens [because] the rebel [ie, the subject of the photo] was so close. [It was] difficult to work, under [fire]. So, when I got back to our base and tried to find a picture to describe the situation, I found this frame, but with the camera in the corner. It took me time to make the decision to remove it from the frame, but I did it.

I usually develop my images using the base process, RAW files toned and desaturated. The photo with the rebel ducking is my exception. I gave all my archives to the AP, almost 500 pictures, and they could see for themselves that this was a singe case.

Q. Do you know what caused your lapse in judgment? I am trying to understand: What caused you to cross the line this time–but not other times?

A: It took me time before I decided to take it [the camera] out. I recognize and assume the rules of photojournalism as the basis of my work, but I was weak at this point. There is no other reason, I broke my own rules. My fault was that I din’t contact my editors to ask for advice or try to get feedback from my very experienced colleague, who was with me.

I’m not trying to excuse myself, but it is not easy to be at a place where you are facing death every single moment, your mind and feelings are moved to another reality, far away from the one you are used to, [and] you perform like a different person. You can support long working days under tough conditions, your mind is set up to survive, and obsessively in the perfection of your work. This is the problem. We are obsessed about getting the perfect shot, that means you want to get the perfect shot under hazardous conditions. It is not worth [it] as a photographer, to come back with nothing if you risk your life [covering a story]. This obsession made the difference, and affected my decision to alter the picture. But I recognize that I made a mistake, a severe one, and a wish I could undo it.

Q. Did you understand when you made the alteration what the consequences might be if you were caught? In other words, were you aware of AP’s ethics policy, and the consequences of violating it?

A: I did know the consequences to alter a picture, and I did know when I told the AP photo editor about this as well, but at the time I told the AP editor I was looking to be honest for what I had done, and I feel this time I took the correct decision to try to repair my mistake.

Q. What do you think of [AP's] ethics policy?

A: That policy means to respect the credibility of the profession and the credibility of the service that all journalists and photographers are doing. So, this is the basis of our work.

Q. Do you think the punishment was fair? If not, why not? And what action by AP would have been more fair?

A: As I mentioned before, the credibility of our work is on the table when a single mistake is [made]. So, to prevent this kind of situation [from] happening again, and to protect the credibility of our profession I have to assume the consequences. But all situations and cases are unique and should be treated as such.

I would have preferred to discuss with the editors the whole situation personally, before they took their decision, but I have not had the chance to talk to anyone. They went behind locked doors and made their decision. This is a very critical situation, and accordingly it has to be analyzed and talked through with whom committed the fault. We are not disposable. They have to analyze every single case according to its unique nature.

Q. Our readers are divided about AP’s reaction to what you did. Some think AP was too harsh. Others expressed zero tolerance for altering news images, and think your punishment was justified. What would you say to them?

A: Zero tolerance is justified when it comes to altering news images. We must all play by the rules. But I’m critical when it comes to how the Industry handles the situation with individual photographers, especially when you are a freelance[r]. [For] editors it is not always easy to handle mistakes, but as a photographer you should have the right to be included in the process. Every single case is unique and that has to be taken in to consideration as well.

Q. What would you have said to AP? Is there an argument you wanted to make to them, to prevent them from ending their relationship with you?

A: They have the right to cut ties if you break the rules, but they should not have the exclusive right to manage the consequences of a photographer’s fault. Dialogue is the base to solve any single problem. If you are not allowed to talk when you are being judged by a company, there is something that is not working properly.

I do accept to break up the working relationship between them and me if I broke the rules, but the public punishment seems more like an exhibit of power in order to protect its own interests.

Q. What effect do you think this incident will have on your career? Do you expect to continue working as a photojournalist? If so, for whom?

A:  This incident affected my working relationship with the AP, and probably with some other media outlets, but nothing has changed for me in terms of what I assume as my duty in life, as a person and as photographer, to document what I perceive as the breaking moments for our history. I’m still the same person that I was when I got recognition for what I’ve done in Syria or anywhere else. I’m still in the same place where I was when I started collaborating with the AP.

I made a mistake, but it does not mean that the whole body of my work is lost. I have to restore my credibility, firstly by assuming that I made a mistake and sincerely apologizing for this, secondly by reinforcing the working relationship with the media outlets I work with.

As far as I can, I would keep on doing photography. This incident affects my way temporarily, not permanently. I believe in what I do in my life, this is my engagement and this is beyond photography.

Related:
AP Cuts Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image

January 23rd, 2014

HuffPost Ignoring PhotoJ Credits For Images of Kiev Clashes

Yesterday Huffington Post UK published “29 Incredible Pictures Of Kiev Transformed Into A Warzone,” but didn’t bother to caption or credit the images to the photojournalists who are risking personal harm to create them.

(Oddly, another gallery published by the Huffington Post empire using some of the same images did include proper credits and captions.)

Several news outlets are carrying wire images of clashes in Kiev between protestors and police. Among the photographers whose images are featuring prominently on the websites and front pages of major news media are Sergei Grits and Efrem Lukatsky, who are covering the protests for AP; Valentyn Ogirenko, Vasily Fedosenko and Gleb Garanich for Reuters; and Sergei Supinsky, Anatolii Boiko, Anatoliy Stepanov and Vasily Maximov for AFP/Getty.

Show some respect, HuffPost UK, while you count your clicks.

January 23rd, 2014

AP Severs Ties with Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image

Courtesy of AP Photos

Courtesy of AP Photos

Associated Press (AP) has severed ties with freelance photographer Narciso Contreras for altering a news photograph he shot in Syria, the wire service has announced. Contreras was part of a team of AP photographers that shared the Pulitzer Prize last year for coverage of the Syrian civil war.

AP reports that Contreras “recently told its editors that he manipulated a digital picture of a Syrian rebel fighter taken last September.” The image shows the rebel fighter taking cover in a rugged landscape. Contreras altered the image by removing from the scene a video camera sitting on the ground near the soldier.

Santiago Lyon, AP’s director of photography, said the alteration “involved a corner of the image with little news importance,” but it was nevertheless a breach of AP’s standards. “Deliberately removing elements from our photographs is completely unacceptable,” Lyon said.

AP says the altered image was not part of AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning portfolio.

Contreras said he removed the video camera from the image in question because he thought it would distract viewers, according to the AP report.

“I took the wrong decision when I removed the camera … I feel ashamed about that,” he said. “You can go through my archives and you can find that this is a single case that happened probably at one very stressed moment, at one very difficult situation, but yeah, it happened to me, so I have to assume the consequences.”

Contreras, who is 38, began his career freelancing for newspapers in Mexico, but made his reputation with his coverage of the war in Syria. Time Lightbox showcased his work in December, 2012.

“[Contreras] has managed to illuminate and distill the horrors of the…war — more consistently than any of his often more-experienced peers,” Time senior photo editor Phil Bicker wrote in a story that accompanies the 44-image gallery. “What makes Contreras’s work in Syria even more astonishing is the fact that he has, in a sense, come out of nowhere to emerge as the one photographer whose work will likely be seen as the photographic record of the conflict.”

AP says it has removed all of Contreras’s images from its archives. There were about 500 in all. AP says it has compared as many as it could to Contreras’s original image files, and found no other instances of alteration.