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December 16th, 2013

We Know Africa Is Not a Single Country, Newsweek Says

© Newsweek/photos © Tadej Znidarcic/Redux Pictures

© Newsweek/photos © Tadej Znidarcic/Redux Pictures

Today Newsweek.com published a story about the increasing dangers that gays face in Ethiopia, where sexual activity among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has been criminalized. The only problem: The story is illustrated with photos taken not in Ethiopia, but in Uganda. The portraits of LGBT individuals were taken by Tadej Znidarcic in 2009 as part of his project about anti-gay legislation that had been proposed in the Ugandan parliament. The photos appear in the Newsweek story about Ethiopia’s anti-gay laws without a caption or clarification about their subject  or location.

When we reached Newsweek for comment, we were told that, yes, the editors there do know that Ethiopia and Uganda are two different countries. Yes, there was concern at the magazine about using photos taken in one country three years ago to illustrate what’s happening in a different country today. But no, a caption won’t be added.

It wasn’t a simple error. It sounds like a tale involving limited photographic options, bad website design, a few bad choices and some embarrassment on Newsweek’s part.

The LGBT Ethiopians quoted in the story by writer Katie J.M. Baker had asked that their faces not be shown in the story, so options for portraits were limited. Baker  provided photos she had shot on a cellphone at a gathering of gay friends in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia, with their faces cut out of the frame, but her photos were small and pixelated. Wanting something more photographic, Newsweek photo editor remembered Znidarcic’s photos, which were exhibited in the Open Society’s Moving Walls exhibition in 2011 and shown on several blogs.

Znidarcic had photographed gay activists in Uganda facing a wall, their faces hidden, because at the time, the Ugandan parliament was debating a bill that would have imposed the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” Newsweek contacted Redux Pictures to license the photos, and informed Znidarcic about the subject of the story.

Though an editor at Newsweek was concerned that the images might be confusing or misleading, since they weren’t shot in Ethiopia, Newsweek ended up running them with the story anyway, above the words: “In many countries, it’s getting better for the LGBT community. In Ethiopia, it’s getting worse.”

That’s not the caption to the photo, a Newsweek staffer explained; that’s the deck to the story. The web page is designed with no caption. And for some reason, the writer or editors chose not to insert a photo caption into the text (for example, where comparisons were made to the 75 other countries in the world where same-sex sex has been criminalized). The lack of clarity about the photos mars a rare international story about topic under-reported in mainstream media.

Yes, we know that there are deadlines, and contingencies, and that web templates can be rigid and aren’t often designed with journalistic concerns in mind. But we have to wonder: Would the editors have illustrated a story about news in Germany with an image taken in Denmark?

September 4th, 2013

John McCain’s iPhone Poker: A Brief History of Long-Lens Gotchas

©The Washington Post. Photo © Melina Mara/Washington Post

©The Washington Post. Photo © Melina Mara/Washington Post

Yesterday photographer Melina Mara of The Washington Post got a photo of Senator John McCain playing poker on his iPhone during the Senate hearing on military action in Syria. Mara’s photo is the most widely seen photo of yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

This isn’t the first time a sharp-eyed photographer has managed to zoom in and figure out what was on a politician’s mind during a long meeting.

© Rick Wilking/Reuters

© Rick Wilking/Reuters

There was the famous close-up of the note that President George Bush slipped to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during a 2005 UN summit, asking if he could get a bathroom break.

Reuters photographer Rick Wilking photographed the note, and the wire service enlarged the image to make sure the writing was legible before distributing the image.

In 2011, Mario Tama of Getty Images got a shot of the text of the speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered to the UN General Assembly, including the revisions he had scribbled on the page– possibly while he was listening to the previous speaker, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Tama told PDNPulse he shot over Netanyahu’s shoulder from a booth above the Assembly using a 400mm lens, and then zoomed into the image in Photoshop to read the words.

The takeaway for photographers: Bring a long lens with you, and remember to look down.

The takeaway for politicians: Look behind you.

Unless, that is, the politician doesn’t care who sees what you’re doing. After he was caught playing online poker during the hearing on Syria, Senator McCain made a sarcastic joke about the photo on Twitter.

August 1st, 2013

Detroit Native Dave Jordano Uses Street Photography to Counter “Ruin Porn”

 

© Dave Jordano 2013

© Dave Jordano 2013

Photographer Dave Jordano’s three-year project “Detroit–Unbroken Down,” featured in this week’s Time magazine and on a recent post on Time’s Lightbox, represent a return to Jordano’s roots – both personally and professionally. Jordano grew up in Detroit, and he began revisiting it three years ago to document how it had changed since 1977, when he moved to Chicago to launch his commercial photography career. The project also represents a return to the documentary street photography he had done before he began shooting ad campaigns. Almost a decade after he began transitioning from advertising work to fine-art photography, Jordano, 65, has had several projects exhibited and sold prints to several museum collections. But, he says, “This Detroit work is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think the project’s finished yet.”

In 2010, Jordano noticed that there were many photo books being published about Detroit, all focused on “abandonment and emptiness.” He says, “The term ‘ruin porn’ was used to describe it.” Jordano still had the street photos he’d shot in Detroit as a photo student in the 1970s, and he decided to try a re-photographing the same streets 35 years later. But the project soon changed course. Over the course of 22 trips in the last three years, he’s started focusing on “portraiture and small moments.” He explains, “There are people living here and they’re stuck here because they can’t afford to leave.” His view of Detroit isn’t rosy. City neighborhoods lack grocery stores, bus service or street lights; calls to 911 take at least an hour to rouse a response. “Anyone there will tell you it’s awful, but this is what they deal with every day” he says. His images capture people managing to survive.

As a native of Detroit, Jordano says, “I was just more emotionally connected to the place than photographers who were just coming in and out, and then posting work that made the whole city look bad.” (more…)

July 17th, 2013

UN Security Council Holds Debate on Protections for Journalists

UN-tvFour journalists who have covered war zones will speak before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) today as part of an open debate on international protection for journalists covering war zones and post-conflict zones. Correspondent Richard Engel of NBC, journalist Mustafa Haji Abdinur of Radio Simba in Somalia and Agence France Presse, Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad of the Guardian, and Kathleen Carroll, Associated Press executive editor and vice chair of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists, will be speaking today to members of the Council on the need to address attacks against journalists and also pursue prosecution for their attackers. You can watch the event live via webcast starting at 10am EST at http://webtv.un.org.

The US Mission to the UN organized the debate. Ambassador Rosemary A. DiCarlo, charge d’affaires to the U.S. mission to the UN,  said at a press conference that the meeting would be “an opportunity to hear directly from journalists about the acts of violence they face while operating in conflict areas.”

Whether any UN action can actually help journalists around the world is unclear. The last time the Council considered protections for journalists was in 2006, when it ratified Resolution 1738, which condemned intentional attacks on journalists. Since then, DiCarlo noted, “worldwide violence against journalists has worsened and there has been a particular increase in murders and imprisonment arising from conflict situations.”

A “UN Plan of Action” report released earlier this year noted a “staggering number of journalists and media workers killed while performing their professional duties.” It also noted that in 9 out of 10 cases, their killers were never prosecuted.

Related Articles
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April 22nd, 2013

Video Pick: Thomas Dworzak’s Long View of the Caucasus

Since the 1990s, Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak has explored the volatile republics of the Northern Caucasus. It’s a region that’s now in the news because alleged Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had ties there, but  Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia and other republics of the Caucasus have long been a source of curiosity and geopolitical ambitions, especially in Russia.

In his 2010 book, Kavkas, Dworzak, who is now based in Georgia, wrote: “Having discovered the importance of the ‘Caucasus Experience’ in 19th century romantic Russian literature, I finally put together a book with all the images from my years spent in the Caucasus.” Kavkas includes images Dworzak took while covering the conflicts in Chechnya and Abkhazia and their aftermath, as well as scenes from Dagestan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ossetia.

In the book’s introduction, Dworzak called Kavkas “a toast to the Caucasus.” Magnum in Motion made a multimedia slide show of some of the images from the book. They appear on screen as in the book, interspersed with text from writers including Tolstoy, Lermontov and Pushkin.

While many of Dworzak’s images are poetic and allusive, and compliment the writers’ rhapsodic prose, at other times they make a sharp contrast, showing the violence and hardship the region has seen in recent years.

Related article:
Boston Bombings Focus Attention on Caucasus, And Photo Projects on the Region

Notable Photo Books 2010 (review of Kavkas, published by Schilt)
(For PDN subscribers only.)

April 22nd, 2013

Boston Bombings Focus Attention on Caucasus, And Photo Projects on the Region

© Davide Monteleone/VII. From Red Thistle (published by Dewi Lewis)

© Davide Monteleone/VII. From Red Thistle (published by Dewi Lewis)

As investigations into the alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev focus on their connection to Chechnya and to the region of Dagestan, where Tamerlan spent time in January 2012, we’re once again looking at photographic studies of the North Caucusus. This volatile and troubled region may be little known to many Americans, but it’s been the subject of in-depth examination by photographers including Stanley Greene, Thomas Dworzak and Davide Monteleone. They have explored not only the violence in the region, but its culture, rituals and legacy of ethnic and political tensions.

Talking about his 2012 book Red Thistle, which explores life in the Northern Caucusus, David Monteleone told PDN in  2012 that he wanted to learn more about the people in the region than he could learn from media reports about terrorist attacks and human rights abuses. The book is a collection of images he took over several years in the republics around Chechnya, including Dagestan, Abkhazia (the Georgian Republic), Ingushetia, Karachay–Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia and the disputed territory of South Ossetia.

“For every work that I do, I want to show the daily life of people,” Monteleone told PDN. “Then of course I try to get a little bit deeper and try to find my own vision, but it’s my curiosity first of all.”

People he met in the region who were hospitable and welcoming, he says, but “the authorities were not.” Many of his images were shot indoors, conveying the constraints he experienced. “You have this wild, big [landscape], and at the same time the people are sort of afraid of moving, they cannot reach some places. A lot of areas are closed because of antiterrorist operations, you cannot go to the mountains because it’s forbidden because of military operations … [The people] are restricted in a way, in the mind and physically.”

You can read Monteleone’s full interview in “Disputed Territories: Exploring Life in the Northern Caucuses” on PDNOnline.

* Photo, above: A woman in the Dagestan village of Gimri during the sacrifice of a bull. © Davide Monteleone/VII
Related articles
Disputed Territories: Exploring Life in the Northern Caucusus
Photo Gallery: More Images from Red Thistle

February 20th, 2013

Campaign to Prosecute Crimes Against Journalists Set to Launch

Goals of the CampaignAidan Sullivan of Getty Images, photojournalist Lynsey Addario, David Friend of Vanity Fair magazine and several others have announced their plans to launch a social media campaign to push for the prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against journalists.

Called “A Day Without News?,” the campaign will launch on February 22, the anniversary of the deaths of newspaper reporter Marie Colvin and photojournalist Remi Ochlik. Both died when the Syrian military shelled a makeshift media center in Homs.

Organizers of A Day Without News will use Twitter and other social media starting on February 22 to direct people to a web site,  www.adaywithoutnews.com, where they can add their names to a list of supporters of the campaign. The organizers are also asking supporters of the initiative to use their own social media networks to spread the word.

“Over the course of the next 12 months, we will continue to meet with multiple governments who have shown interest and support for the campaign, to push policy and diplomacy to fight against impunity and to partner with educational institutions and NGOs to identify, investigate and ultimately prosecute cases where journalists and media personnel have been targeted and killed,” organizers said in a written statement announcing the campaign.

In addition to Sullivan, Friend, and Addario, others involved in organizing the campaign are photojournalists Tom Stoddart and John Moore, Sir Daniel Bethlehem, QC, founding director of Legal Policy International Limited, and Sara Solfanelli is the HR & Talent Director at MediaCom Worldwide in London.
                –David Walker

February 14th, 2013

Want to Guess What Will Win World Press Photo of the Year?

@ Samuel Aranda

@ Samuel Aranda

The announcement of the World Press Photo of the Year 2012 winner is now less than 24 hours away. Speculation is ripe: Which international news story will be depicted in the photo that wins the top prize?  The conflict in Mali, or Syria? Protests against austerity measures in Greece? Political unrest in Egypt? Hurricane Sandy?

The other question is: How will the news story be depicted? Since 1955, most of the World Press Photo winners have shown lone individuals who symbolize a larger story: a single grieving or injured or dead individual standing in for many who were left grieving, injured or dead by a conflict or natural disaster.  Only twice have the winning images shown groups of people in danger.   The number of winning images that depict  women in moments of grave danger, distress or overwhelming grief have far outnumbered the number of photos that show men in similar situations.  Women, alone or in groups, are usually shown as the passive bystanders to conflict or disaster.

© Jodi Bieber/Institute Management/Goodman Gallery for Time

© Jodi Bieber/Institute Management/Goodman Gallery for Time

That trend shifted in the past three years. The women subjects of the last three World Press Photo winners are depicted not as victims but as survivors. Take for example, photographer Jodi Bieber’s 2010 World Press Photo of the Year, the portrait of Bibi Aisha, the Afghan woman whose nose and ears were cut off as retribution for fleeing her husband’s home. Aisha looks calmly into the camera lens. In the 2009 World Press Photo of the Year, taken by Pietro Masturzo of AP,  a woman shouts from a rooftop in Tehran, Iran, after the results of her country’s disputed election results were announced. This defiant woman is a stand-in for the many citizens from all walks of life who took to the streets to protest the election. Last year’s winning image, by Samuel Aranda, shows a woman in a hospital – not an uncommon motif among World Press Photo winners – but the Pieta-like composition shows a woman, her face covered by a veil, giving comfort to a family member injured in the violence in Yemen.

So will the winner announced tomorrow depict conflict, disaster or triumph, through a single person – maybe a man? –or a group? What’s your guess for what story – and what kind of symbol – will win?

Related articles:
Samuel Aranda Wins 2011 World Press Photo of the Year

Jodi Bieber Wins 2010 World Press Photo of the Year

February 11th, 2013

Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter Wins POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Paul-Hansen-POYi-Gaza© Paul Hansen/Dagens Nyheter

Paul Hansen, photographer with the newspaper Dagens Nyheter of Sweden has been named the 2012 Newspaper Photographer of the year in the 70th Pictures of the Year International (POYi).

Hansen was honored for a portfolio that included coverage of the conflict in Gaza and a series on individuals whose lives were affected by the mass murders on the Norwegian island of Utoya in July 2011.

Damon Winter of The New York Times won second place. Dave Weatherwax of The Herald in Jasper, Indiana, won third place.

The judging of the POYi awards takes place over a three-week period. The Freelance/Agency Photographer of the Year category will be judged on Sunday, Feb. 17.

The POYi awards for portrait, campaign, spot news and feature photography were announced last week.

 * Photo, above: An image from “Death from Above-Gaza,” a feature by Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter.

Related articles:
Associated Press Wins Top Portrait Prizes at POYi

POYi Announces Campaign, Spot News and Feature Category Winners

September 7th, 2012

Shepard Fairey Sentenced on Criminal Charge in ‘Hope” Poster Case

Artist Shepard Fairey was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and fined $25,000 today in a federal courtroom in Manhattan today for destroying documents, falsifying evidence “and other misconduct” in his civil litigation two years ago against the Associated Press (AP). He had faced a maximum of six months in jail.

Fairey pled guilty to the criminal charge last February. The US District Attorney in Manhattan announced Fairey’s plea shortly after he settled his civil case with the AP over his unauthorized use of an AP image to create the “Hope” poster that became an icon of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for President.

“Shepard Fairey went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantagein his civil litigation [against AP], creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said in announcing Fairey’s guilty plea.

AP claimed copyright infringement against Fairy in 2009 for unauthorized use of the image of Obama to create the Hope poster.

Fairey tried to pre-empt the claim by asking a federal court judge to declare that the Hope poster amounted to a fair use of the AP photograph. In seeking that declaration, Fairey gave “factually untrue” information about the image he had used, the US District Attorney said. Specifically, Fairey claimed that he had used part of one AP image to make the poster, when in fact had used a substantial portion of a different AP image.

Fairey admitted the discrepancy in 2010, saying he had made a mistake about which image he had used. He said he then tried to cover up the mistake. (His fair use defense was arguably stronger with the image he originally claimed to have used.)

The US Attorney began a criminal investigation after Fairey’s admission, and concluded that he had created “multiple false and fraudulent documents” which he presented to AP during the discover process in the civil litigation.

The US Attorney also said Fairey tried to get one of his employees to mislead investigators.

Prior to pleading guilty to the criminal charges, Fairey had settled his civil litigation with AP on mostly undisclosed terms (the two sides did agree to share proceeds from licensing of the Hope poster image, however).