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August 21st, 2013

From Twitter to TIME: An Egyptian Photojournalist Finds His Voice Amid Violence

A difficult reality of photojournalism is that photographers often define their careers by covering conflict. Egyptian photojournalist Mosa’ab Elshamy is the latest example. Elshamy began photographing as a citizen journalist during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt in 2011, when he documented demonstrations against then-President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Two and a half-years later, he’s made the transition from being an amateur to being a photojournalist who is watched by top photo editors and a nearly 40,000-strong Twitter following.

Elshamy’s work in Egypt, and from Gaza during the 2012 war there, has been published by the likes of The Economist and Harper’s among others, and he’s won awards in the Egypt International Photography Contest and Arab Union of Photographers competition. Yet during the last few weeks his photos of Egypt’s descent into violence, particularly his images of the clearing of a pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa at the end of July, have earned him the cover of The New York Times and bylines for TIME International and AlJazeera English, among other publications.

Patrick Witty, international picture editor of TIME, says he first heard about Elshamy’s work on Twitter at the end of July. “After the massacre at Rabaa Square on July 27, someone I follow tweeted about a picture he made,” Witty told PDN in an email. “I tracked it back to his Flickr account and reached out to him.” (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.

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June 11th, 2013

Photographer Injured in Istanbul Protests

On Sunday, June 2, photojournalist Antonio Bolfo of Reportage by Getty was injured in Istanbul after police forces fired tear gas canisters into a crowd of protesters and press. Bolfo was in the Besiktas neighborhood, covering demonstrations, when one of the tear gas canisters struck and broke his leg.

Bolfo says he and photojournalist Nicole Tung had been covering the protests for two days and that during that time they “had numerous close calls of getting shot with gas canisters.” He adds, “The police were not always lobbing them at the 45 degrees as they are supposed to, they were shooting line drives at us. They were aiming at people and using the canisters as a weapon.”

Tung had already left the demonstration to file her images when Bolfo was struck. However, photographer Patrick Tombola, one of several photographers and reporters covering the event, had stayed behind with Bolfo and helped him to a triage station at a local mosque. Bolfo and Tung later flew back to New York City for his recovery.

Bolfo happened to arrive in Istanbul on Friday, May 31, the same day that police began violently cracking down on demonstrations. The protests had begun in Istanbul a week earlier, sparked by an announcement that a public park in Taksim Square was being turned into a shopping mall. The movement has now grown into civil unrest focusing on the Turkish government.

Prior to arriving in Istanbul, Bolfo had been covering the civil war in Syria for several weeks, and hoped to use the visit to Turkey for rest. Instead, he and Tung spent two days covering the demonstrations.

There have been reports of police targeting members of the press during the protests, which Bolfo found was the case on the ground. Bolfo, who is familiar with police force tactics after documenting the New York City Police Department in his series “NYPD: Operation Impact 1” and “NYPD: Operation Impact 2,” says that police are often following orders from higher level government officials. “I think officials in the U.S. are more willing to let peaceful protests run their course,” Bolfo explains. “They understand, from history, that using force against a peaceful demonstration usually causes trouble for any government … Once violence is unleashed, it is very hard to cap. In this case, I think the police violence towards a peaceful sit-in is wrong. But I also understand that the police then need to react aggressively towards violent protesters to protect themselves and people’s property. It becomes a vicious cycle that is very hard to end.”

His advice to photographers planning on covering the protests in Turkey: “Once projectiles start flying, get to cover. It sucks being taken out of a story because of injury, or worse.”

*Update: Reporters Without Borders reports that photographer Mathias Depardon was injured in Istanbul on June 11 while covering police attempts to clear Taksim Square of protesters. Depardon said a projectile fired by police (he said he was unsure what the projectile was) struck his mask.

Related Articles from the PDN Archive:

What To Expect If You’re Injured on Assignment
Low-Cost Insurance For Photojournalists Working Abroad
2012 Marty Forscher Fellowship Fund Professional Winner: Antonio Bolfo
2013 PDN‘s 30 Photographer: Nicole Tung

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

January 4th, 2013

Rep. Nancy Pelosi Defends Doctoring of Press Release Photo

Photo Courtesy Nancy Pelosi/via Flickr

Photo Courtesy Nancy Pelosi/via Flickr

© Cliff Owen/AP

© Cliff Owen/AP

 

The hand-out photo that the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave to the press yesterday featured all 61 female representatives of the newly sworn in 113th Congress. The problem was: Four of the representatives shown in the photo came late to the photo-op, and were Photoshopped into the photo after the fact. According to Poynter, the doctored photo was uploaded to Flickr and also emailed to news outlets with a note from a spokesperson in Pelosi’s office that said, “Please note this version has the four Members who were late photo-shopped [sic] in.”  The four late arrivals were dropped into the back row of the group photo.

The AP released an undoctored photo of the scene, without the four missing representatives. It was shot by Cliff Owen.

At a press conference yesterday, Minority Leader Pelosi defended the release of a Photoshopped photo. ABC News reports that she said the representatives who posed for the photo were too cold to wait for the latecomers.

“It was an accurate historical record of who the Democratic women of Congress are,” Pelosi said. “It also is an accurate record that it was freezing cold and our members had been waiting a long time for everyone to arrive and … had to get back into the building to greet constituents, family members, to get ready to go to the floor. It wasn’t like they had the rest of the day to stand there.”

Questions linger about this photo doctoring incident, however. Questions like: Why does any news outlet still run hand-out photos, especially when there’s a wire service photographer on the scene? And: Should we trust members of Congress who don’t have the sense to wear coats when they go outside in Washington in January?

December 14th, 2012

Stanley Greene Wins 2013 Aftermath Grant

Stanley Greene has won the 2013 Aftermath Grant for his proposal to create a new project, “The Rise of Islam in the Caucasus,” The Aftermath Project organization announced today. The Aftermath Grant, worth $20,000 in 2013, supports photographers whose work addresses the legacy of conflict.

In making the announcement, The Aftermath Project noted that Greene is the first “conflict photographer,” as Greene is widely known, to win an Aftermath Project grant. Greene is a member of the photographer collective NOOR Images.

Finalists for the grant include Gwenn Dubourthoumieu, who is pursuing an ongoing project about sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Boryana Katsarova, who is working in post-conflict Kosovo, concentrating on the city of Kosovska Mitrovia; Isabel Kiesewetter, who is working on a project that investigates how former military bases in East and West Germany are presently being utilized; and Martino Lombezzi, whose project examines the impact of the border fence between Lebanon and Israel has on local populations.

Greene’s proposal and those of the finalists were selected from 234 entries from around the world.

The first round of judging for the grant was completed by Aftermath Project Founder Sara Terry and Aperture editor Denise Wolff. Terry and photographers Nina Berman and Eros Hoagland selected the winner and finalists.

The 2013 Aftermath Project grant is supported by The Foundation to Promote Open Society.

Related: Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application
$20,000 Aftermath Project Grant for 2012 Awarded to Andrew Lichtenstein
Look3 Report: Stanley Greene on Luck, Film and Supporting Young Photographers
Eros Hoagland Wins $20K Grant for Conflict Photographers

December 3rd, 2012

Hillary Clinton Honors Photographer Carrie Mae Weems with State Dept. Medal

Photographer Carrie Mae Weems received a State Department medal from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a luncheon on Friday, November 30, at the State Department in Washington, D.C. Clinton honored Weems and four other artists—Jeff Koons, Cai Guo-Qiang, Shahzia Sikander and Kiki Smith—with the first U.S. Department of State Medals of Arts ever awarded. The medals recognized the artists’ contributions to the “Art in Embassies” program, which creates art exhibitions in U.S. diplomatic buildings overseas. The EIN program celebrated its 50-year anniversary this year.

“Art is…a tool of diplomacy,” Clinton said during her remarks at the ceremony. “It is one that reaches beyond governments, past all of the official conference rooms and the presidential palaces, to connect with people all over the world.”

For more, including a video of Clinton’s remarks, visit the State Department site.

November 12th, 2012

Anti-Gay Group Pleads Fair Use, Free Speech in Infringement Case

An anti-gay group sued for using a photograph of a gay couple without permission in political attack ads has asked the court to dismiss the case on fair use and free speech grounds, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Public Advocate of the United States (PAUS) was sued in federal court in September by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere, as well as photographer Kristina Hill. The lawsuit charged PAUS of misappropriation of the likenesses of Edwards and Privitere, a gay couple, in two attack ads distributed in Colorado. The lawsuit also charged infringement of Hill’s copyrights.

Motions to dismiss civil claims are a common legal defense strategy of first resort, and are usually unsuccessful unless the facts of a case are undisputed.

Hill, a Brooklyn-based wedding photographer, had shot engagement photos of the couple. Edwards ended up posting one of the images on his blog, with Hill’s permission. PAUS downloaded the photo, and used it last spring in campaign ads against Colorado state senator Jean White (who had voted in favor of allowing same-sex unions in Colorado) and against Jeffrey Hare, a candidate for the Colorado house of representatives. The ads were distributed as mailers.

According to the Washington Post report, PAUS said that its use of the photograph is protected speech, because the organization was expressing its political views about gay marriage. PAUS also said that the gay couple depicted in the photograph had no reasonable expectation of privacy, because they had posted the image online where anyone could see it.

In its defense against the copyright infringement claim, PAUS argued that its use of the photo was protected by fair use because it “thoroughly transformed” Hill’s photograph by changing the background before publishing it in the political mailers. Hill had photographed the couple against a New York skyline. The PAUS ads replaced that skyline with two different Colorado landscapes.

Related:
Anti-GAy Group Sued for Unauthorized Use of Photo in Attack Ads

October 29th, 2012

PPE 2012: James Balog on Using Art to Alter Perception About the Environment

As the Northeast braces for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall this evening, with schools and offices—including PDN‘s—closed in preparation, it seems an appropriate time to recap photographer James Balog‘s keynote address this past Saturday at Photo Plus Conference + Expo. Balog’s talk covered his Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) project, which shows through time-lapse video the recession of 27 glaciers around the northern hemisphere, from Greenland to Iceland to Alaska to Montana and Nepal. The time-lapses are remarkable: viewers the recent spike in the earth’s temperature manifested in the shrinking of massive glaciers over the course of just a few years. Balog also introduced and screened a documentary about the EIS project, called “Chasing Ice” (see the trailer here).

Balog has dedicated his life and career to photographing the environment and nature, and his talk was more focused on how humans are changing the planet than on photography. But it did present the photographers in the audience with some insights into how photographic tools can be used to change public opinion and into how one photographer is accomplishing that task.

“Art in combination with science has proven to be effective” in shifting the public understanding, Balog noted in explaining his methods and thinking. “We are visual witnesses. [Cameras] are not just tools, they are vital parts of the sensory apparatus of the human race.” Indeed the EIS time lapses, enabled by digital camera technology, have allowed Balog and his team to show us something we could never have otherwise seen.

Balog was a budding scientist when he decided he was more interested in photography than in statistics and crunching numbers, he recalled. As a young adult he “realized that one of the pivotal issues of our era is the intersection of humans and nature,” and his work has focused on “probing that boundary,” he explained.

The EIS project grew from assignments from National Geographic and the New Yorker to photograph glaciers. Through those assignments Balog discovered a way to visualize the idea that humans “are changing the basic operating system of the earth” by burning hydrocarbons, and that that reality could be understood through looking at the planet’s ice. Glaciers serve as barometers and thermometers for the planet, Balog noted, and “everyone knows what happens when ice melts.”

When he launched the EIS project five years ago, Balog and his team created digital camera systems with custom-made timers and solar panels that would capture an image of a glacier every 1/2 hour during daylight hours. Those systems were mounted in modified Pelican cases and trekked into remote areas around the planet to record the changes to some of the most massive glaciers in the world. The results of the project address the “need to introduce more understanding of the truth” of how humans are changing the basic functioning of the earth.

During his talk Balog noted that “Chasing Ice” has been sent several times to President Obama, and to every member of Congress. The film will open in 24 theaters nationwide in November, expanding to more theaters if the public response is positive. Balog also said the EIS group is engaging with the Evangelical Creation Care movement to spread the word about the project and film among that group, which is dedicated to preserving the environment. A book of Balog’s glacier photographs, Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers, was also released last month from Rizzoli.

Balog envisions the EIS project going on indefinitely, he noted. He also spoke about a new non-profit organization he is establishing called Earth Vision Trust, which will look to fund other people’s environmental projects through fellowships.

October 9th, 2012

Luc Delahaye Awarded $106,000 Prix Pictet

Luc-Delahaye-Ambush-Ramadi

“Ambush, Ramadi, 22 July 2006,” by Luc Delahaye.

French photojournalist-turned-artist Luc Delahaye has won the fourth Prix Pictet, the organization announced in a ceremony this evening at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The theme of this year’s prize was “Power.”

Founded by Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie in 2008, the Prix Pictet is awarded to photographers whose work engages with themes of sustainability.

180 experts from around the world nominated 673 artists for the prize. From those the jury selected 12 shortlisted artists, all of whom will be included in an exhibition opening tomorrow, October 10, at the Saatchi Gallery in London. The exhibition will also tour internationally.

Delahaye submitted a portfolio titled “Various works: 2008-2011,” about which he wrote in his artist’s statement:

“I try to put myself in situations that I feel have a certain relevance regarding what we call a shared destiny. The reality I’m interested in is that of people who struggle to act upon it as much as they are subject to it. I sometimes work where power presents itself as a spectacle, as an event produced for or with the media, and my pictures may then take an ironic undertone. But I photograph the ordinary man more often than the leader. I usually stay at the distance where the human relationships are visible, multiple, active and where they remain problematic. I’m interested in narration and in photography’s phenomenological hold on the real.”

Among the other shortlisted photographers were Robert Adams, Rena Effendi, An-My Lê, who just received a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, and Joel Sternfeld.

Pictet & Cie, the company that founded the prize, also awarded a commission to nominated photographer Simon Norfolk to travel to and photograph a region where the Bank is supporting a sustainability project.

Previous Prix Pictet winners include Mitch Epstein, Nadav Kander and Benoit Aquin.

Related: Prix Pictet Announces 12 Photographers Shortlisted for Prize