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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

September 26th, 2012

Anti-Gay Group Sued for Unauthorized Use of Photo in Attack Ads

©Kristina Hill

The Southern Poverty Law Center has sued an anti-gay group for unauthorized use of a photograph of a gay couple in political attack ads in Colorado earlier this year.

SPLC sued the Virginia-based Public Advocate for the United States (PAUS) for violating the copyrights of photographer Kristina Hill of Brooklyn, New York. The suit also alleges that PAUS unlawfully appropriated the likenesses of the couple in the photograph–Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere.

Public Advocate of the United States, which SPLC classifies as a hate group because of its anti-gay propaganda, used Hill’s photo 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.

Hill’s image of Edwards and Privitere, shot during an engagement session, shows them kissing with a New York skyline in the background. Edwards ended up posting the image on his blog, with Hill’s permission.

PAUS downloaded the image, stripped out the background, and replaced it with backgrounds of two different Colorado landscapes for the unauthorized campaign mailers. PAUS superimposed text that read “State Senator Jean White’s idea of ‘family values?’” in one mailer and “Jeffrey Hare’s Vision for Weld County?” in the other ad.

White was defeated in her re-election race.

“I cringe every time I look at what once was one of our favorite photos,” Edwards said in a press release issued by SPLC when it filed the lawsuit today. “All I see now is the defiled image used to attack our family and our community. All we want is justice for the pain that Public Advocate has caused us. ”

An SPLC attorney said in the press release: “This was just a cheap way for Public Advocate to avoid having to pay for a stock photo to use in their hateful anti-gay attack ad. It was nothing short of theft.”

Hill, Edwards and Privitere are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

Related stories:
Civil Rights Group Demands End to Use of Same-Sex Couple Photo in Anti-Gay Ad
Wedding Photographer Might Sue for Infringement Over Anti-Gay Attack Ad

August 23rd, 2012

“Bears for Belarus” Photographer Released by the KGB

Bears for Belarus

Courtesy of Belarusian News Photos/www.BNP.by

Anton Suryapin, a photographer detained by agents from Belarus’s state security agency (still referred to as the KGB), was released on August 17, according to Reporters Without Borders. He is being charged with “organizing illegal migration”; authorities accused him of helping the pilots who airdropped 800 teddy bears carrying pro-democratic messages throughout country on July 4. Amnesty International reports that Suryapin is a journalism student at Belarus State University and that he was arrested on July 13 after uploading images taken of the “Bears for Belarus” demonstration to the Belarusian News Photos Web site.

The event was engineered by the Swedish advertising firm Studio Total. It has created tension between the two European countries and resulted in president Aleksandr G. Lukashenko firing a number of officials, including the foreign minister and head of air defense, because the plane entered Belarusian airspace undetected and without permission.

July 16th, 2012

Open Society Announces Photogs for 20th “Moving Walls” Exhibition

Open Society Institute, the human rights non-profit founded by George Soros, has announced the photographers who will be showing work in the 20th edition of its “Moving Walls” documentary photography exhibition, which will open in 2013. The selected photographers and projects are:

Katharina Hesse, on North Korean refugees who crossed the border into China
Fernando Moleres, on young men and boys imprisoned alongside adults and awaiting trial in Sierra Leone
Yuri Kozyrev, on the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and their aftermath
Ian Teh, on the changing landscape of the Yellow River Basin in China
Donald Weber, on police interrogations in Ukraine

Photographers selected for the exhibition receive a $2,500 honorarium.

In addition to being the 20th iteration of “Moving Walls,” the exhibition will be the first in OSI’s new ground-level office space in Midtown Manhattan, which looks set to raise the profile of the exhibition. The new space “gives us opportunities to engage with the public in a different way,” noted OSI documentary photography project director Amy Yenkin in her announcement on the organization’s Web site.

For more visit the OSI site here.

Related: The Year in Photography: Yuri Kozyrev on the Arab Spring
Yuri Kozyrev Wins POYi’s 2011 Freelance Photographer of the Year
State Power: Donald Weber’s Interrogations

July 12th, 2012

Civil Rights Group Demands End to Use of Same-Sex Couple Photo in Anti-Gay Ad

© Kristina Hill

When wedding photographer Kristina Hill learned that her engagement photo of a same-sex couple had been used without her permission in a political flyer attacking same-sex marriage, she told PDN she wasn’t sure she had the resources to pursue a long legal battle. Now Hill and her clients have an ally. Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the civil rights organization, yesterday sent a cease and desist order to Public Advocate of the United States, a right-wing political organization, demanding they confirm they are no longer using the image. In the order,  SPLC also says they are considering other possible legal action for infringing Hill’s copyright.

Hill’s photo shows Tom Privitere and Brian Edwards, a New Jersey couple, kissing. Public Advocate of the United States used the photo without the permission of Hill or her clients in a flyer attacking Republican Colorado State Senator Jean White, who had supported civil unions for same-sex couples. The photo, digitally altered to strip out the New York City skyline, appears under the words “State Senator Jean White’s idea of ‘family values?’”

Public Advocate had defended its unauthorized use of the image on the grounds that others “make fair use of our materials.”

SPLC has previously labeled Public Advocate “a hate group,” and noted in a statement released yesterday that it has “a history of attacking the LGBT community.” The statement quotes Christine Sun, deputy legal director at the SPLC, saying that the alteration and unauthorized use of Hill’s photo was “morally reprehensible.” Sun says, “This latest attack is the most vicious yet and should serve as a warning that your personal photos are not safe from anyone willing to stoop to the vilest level of harassment.”

In the SPLC statement, Hill says she took the engagement photo to document her clients’ love. “When I saw how my image was used, I was sad for Brian and Tom. I was angry that someone would take my work, distort it and use it to reflect the opposite of what it was meant to express.”

Related Article
Wedding Photographer Might Sue for Copyright Infringement Over Anti-Gay Attack Ad