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September 3rd, 2015

The Future of Storage: Portable, Durable Solid-State Drives

Sponsored by SanDisk


Photographer Cliff Mautner shoots over 50 weddings per year. It’s high-stress, demanding work that means he’s always on the run. One weekend, he’s hopping a plane to San Francisco to shoot a wedding in a Federal-Bank-turned-wedding-hall. The next weekend, he’s photographing a couple in front of a New York sunset on a TriBeCa rooftop. Everywhere he goes, he brings his SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD, which he says is “perfect for the wedding photographer.”

Indian Weddings at The Palace at Somerset Park

Mautner photographed a multi-day wedding in Sommerset Park, New Jersey, backing up the images from each day to the SanDisk Extreme Portable 500 SSD. / © Cliff Mautner

“When I shoot weddings, I need a portable, durable, fast drive that I can trust,” Mautner says. “The Extreme 500 is as light as a feather and fits into my front pocket. I can bring it anywhere.”

The Extreme 500 has completely changed Mautner’s workflow. It’s size, speed, portability and storage capacity (ranging from 120GB to 480GB) means that he can edit his images whether he’s shooting an Indian Sangeet ceremony in Philadelphia, driving to upstate New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley or flying to Northern California. When he returns to his studio, he can easily hand off the Extreme 500 to his studio manager for processing.


SanDisk Extreme 500

The Extreme 500 is a solid-state drive and connects to your computer via super-fast USB 3.0, making it four times faster than traditional external hard drives. Between the drive’s lack of moving parts and its rugged shock and vibration-resistant exterior, it is exponentially more reliable too. That means that when Mautner does want to outsource processing for a special event, he can ship the Extreme 500 without any fear that it will break under the rigors of shipping. It’s built to take a beating.

The SanDisk Extreme 500 makes it easy for Mautner to do his job without having to worry about failed hard drives or slow transfer speeds. When you are running at his speed, that makes a huge difference.


As the CEO of Stargate Studios, a state-of-the-art visual effects production house, Sam Nicholson is something like the conductor of an orchestra. On any given day, he’s managing ten different cameras from RED Epics down to GoPros, as they capture terabytes of footage from hit TV shows like The Walking Dead and Revenge. The footage is then transferred, copied, chopped up and shipped out to Nicholson and to offices in places like Berlin, Dubai and Malta where production staff create breathtaking visual effects.


Stargate Studios produced visual effects for the Globo telenovela, Os Dez Mandamentos (The Ten Commandments), in Brazil. / © Stargate Studios

To move that mass of data around, Nicholson relies on the SanDisk Extreme 900 to make sure that the footage gets to its destination quickly and reliably.

“The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is the future. There’s no doubt about it,” Nicholson says. “It’s incredibly reliable and fast, which saves you time and money.”

Today, Stargate’s workflow consists of a combination of solid-state cards in his cameras, a footage trailer on set outfitted with 30 terabytes of slower spinning hard drives and SanDisk Extreme 900 drives for transferring between editorial staff, Nicholson and Stargate’s multiple production facilities. Nicholson is itching to “future-proof” his production pipeline by using the Extreme 900 throughout because of their speed, size of up to 1.9TBs and durability. He likened his current situation to a six-lane freeway that unexpectedly closes down to a two-lane highway when data reaches the spinning drives.

“Until we use solid-state drives like the Extreme 900 through the entire pipeline, it’s like a traffic jam of data,” Nicholson explains.


SanDisk Extreme 900

In addition to the speed advantages, the Extreme 900 adds a layer of reliability that traditional spinning drives can’t match. In Stargate’s current workflow, Nicholson and his team have to back up all footage multiple times to protect from failing spinning hard drives—which he estimates occur 30 percent of the time. When he uses the Extreme 900, he doesn’t even bother backing up because he knows the drives won’t fail.

“Future-proofing” Stargate’s workflow doesn’t just save Nicholson time, it saves his entire staff time. That means less time transferring, copying and backing up data and more time doing what he and his team loves—crafting compelling stories and mind-blowing visual effects.

“No one pays attention to all the time that gets wasted managing your data,” Nicholson says. “When you realize how much time you can save, you understand why drives like the Extreme 900 are so important.”

August 24th, 2015

What New Federal Trade Commission Guides Mean For Instagram Influencers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new guidelines regarding paid endorsements that photographers should be aware of—especially if they’re being paid to promote products on their Instagram feeds. This summer the FTC updated Guides to Section 5 of the FTC Act to add guidelines about how “Instagram influencers” and bloggers should identify any company or product they’ve been paid to promote.

Put simply, the Guides insist that if you are being compensated to endorse a company, product or event, you should say so. “The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading,” the FTC states.

According to the Guides, there are no fines for violations of the FTC Act. However, “law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations.” Not to mention legal fees.

In the FAQ section, the FTC addresses blogs and social media specifically. “Truth in advertising is important in all media,” the Commission writes, “whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media).” (more…)

August 21st, 2015

Magnum Foundation Grants 2 Fellowships to Support Collaborative Documentary Projects

© Peter DiCampo

Unfinished latrines. Wantugu, Northern Region, Ghana. 2014. © Peter DiCampo

Magnum Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Magnum Photos, has announced the winners of a new fellowship supporting photographic projects that invite public participation. Magnum Foundation has partnered with the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at the Columbia School of Journalism to create the Photography, Expanded Fellowship, which will help photographers “collaborate with technologists to expand their practices and to develop new forms for narrative storytelling to more effectively address social issues.” The 2015 Fellows will work with programmers, designers and advisors at the Brown Center to create public platforms for sharing their projects.

The winners of the first Photography, Expanded Fellowships are:

Peter DiCampo for a participatory photo project, “What Went Wrong,” looking at the impact of foreign aid money in Africa. DiCampo, the co-creator of the Everyday Africa Instagram feed, says the debate over the effectiveness or detrimental effects of aid needs “journalistic investigation, local perspective, visual history and frank discussion on what forms of ad do and do not work.”

Zun Lee for his “Fade Resistance” series, which aims fill gaps in the history of American snapshot photography by incorporating found Polaroids of African-American families. The fellowship will support the creation of an interactive platform that invites the public to participate in the collection, organization and narrative arrangement of the snapshots. The goal is to make the archive available to writers and historians.

Magnum Foundation has also awarded a project development grant. The winners are:

Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville, for “Women on the Outside,” a series of portraits and dialogues among women who have loved ones who are currently incarcerated. Katz and Riordan Seville are part of the group of photographers producing the Everyday Incarceration Instagram feed, comprised of images that examine mass incarceration in the U.S. With the grant, “the Everyday Incarceration team will create a web-based platform that invites viewers to witness and engage in the realities of women who are separated from incarcerated partners, family members and friends,” the Magnum Foundation says.

Magnum Foundation has previously organized symposia and workshops as part of their Photography, Expanded initiative to encourage documentary photographers to expand their storytelling beyond still photos.

Related articles:

Magnum Foundation Announces Emergency Fund Grants

How to Win Grants That Support Your Photo Projects

Zun Lee: PDN’s 30 2014

Founders of Everyday Feeds Launch @EverydayEverywhere, “Family of Man for the Modern Age”

Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?

July 13th, 2015

Pulitzer Center Announces $1 Million Fund for Multimedia Journalism Projects

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has announced the Catalyst Fund, a new initiative that will support “as many as 40” multimedia journalism projects in the next two years with $1 million in grants made to journalists working with major news outlets.

In addition to supporting the production of multimedia reportage, the Fund will also support journalists in their efforts to disseminate projects to students through presentations at schools and via the Pulitzer Center website.

The Fund is supported by donations from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, and from individual donors.

“The Pulitzer Center is a leader among a growing field of nonprofit news organizations bringing creative models of production and dissemination to a disrupted news industry,” said Kathy Im, Director of MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media program, in a statement.

The Pulitzer Center says it has already committed Catalyst Fund support to projects that will be published by The New York Times, National Geographic, MSNBC and other outlets.

Journalists interested in applying for Catalyst Fund grants are encouraged to apply through the Pulitzer Center’s grants portal, here:

Related: Q&A: How to Get Funding From The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

July 8th, 2015

Charles Harbutt’s Travelog: The Best Essay About Photography Ever Written?

travelogWhen photographer and former Magnum president Charles Harbutt died on June 29, we called Alex Webb, one of the many photographers Harbutt mentored, for comment. Webb described Harbutt as “a remarkable teacher” who “thought about photography in interesting ways.” Webb also said that the introductory essay Harbutt wrote for his 1974 book, Travelog, “is one of the most special pieces of writing about the process of taking photographs.” Webb noted that he didn’t agree with every word of it, but said, “Some of the things he says are so right about being a photographer and photographic perception.”

Intrigued, we went looking for it, and thanks to social media discovered that photographer Anthony Northcutt had reprinted the essay in full on his blog last year, on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition of Harbutt’s work. He did it, Northcutt wrote, “Because it’s amazing, and will have a direct and lasting impact on your photographic philosophy.” (A short excerpt from the essay was also published on the Lens blog of The New York Times a few days after Harbutt’s death.)

The essay is philosophical without being grandiose. That’s because his description of the mechanics of the camera and the act of making a picture leads naturally into bigger questions, like the nature of time:

“All photographs can be precisely dated to the very fraction of a second when they were made and all great photographs contain some attitude toward time: either real time –the Thirties, Saturday morning, peak action–or camera time–only at this moment were these masses in equilibrium, double exposures, or even personal time: this moment reminds me of my childhood, or of a dream or a feeling.”  

The essay is, in a way, an explanation of how Harbutt took inspiration from both observable reality and the intuition and emotion that filtered his observation. As photographer Jeff Jacobson put it in our obituary, “He pushed documentary photography up to the edge of recognizable reality. But it was very important for him to have one foot firmly planted in reality.” To make photos of the world, Harbutt writes, is to achieve an awareness akin to what people practicing yoga or Gestalt therapy try to achieve.

“If you close your eyes, turn your head left or right, up or down, then, saying click, open and close your eyes very quickly, you will experience the photographic moment. It’s like that inside a camera when the shutter clicks. When I tried it, I noticed a sudden rush of light and a jumble of objects. A student once said that more than noticing that the world was still there, she noticed that she was still there. I see therefore I am. Closed eyes are the state of dreams; only interior visions are possible then. When the eyes are open, an awareness of dreams and the interior life is stilI possible, but awareness of the external world is possible only with open eyes. And therefore, the fullest experience of life is possible only when one is awake and with open eyes, out on the streets of the world.”

Some of the essay may seem dated now; Harbutt was writing about film and shutters before the advent of digital capture, and he was also writing at a time when photography was struggling to be accepted as art. His description of photographic practice will probably appeal more to photographers who function in the world than those who create works of their imagination in the studio. Still, Harbutt’s writing is bracing. While it might not, as Northcutt wrote, change your way of making pictures, it might make you want to take a look around you with a little more attention and perhaps a heightened sense of wonder.

Related Articles
Obituary: Photographer Charles Harbutt Dies

Charlie Harbutt: Departures and Arrivals

June 11th, 2015

Three Reasons to Go 4K

Sponsored by Samsung

Display resolutions don’t change often, but when they do, the change is momentous. When the world switched from standard to high definition, the revolution transformed both the media and electronics industries.

A similar revolution is underway again, as the world starts its trek from high definition to 4K or “ultra-high definition.”

As with any change of this sort, early adopters face a number of challenges before taking the plunge, but those who do strike early can be rewarded. Here are three reasons why now is the best time to invest in 4K.


Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

It’s the future

The consensus among market research firms is that 4K-television adoption is a matter of “when” not “if”—and the “when” starts just about now. The Consumer Electronics Association projects that 4 million 4K TVs will be shipped this year in the United States alone, up 208 percent from 2014. Worldwide, the trend looks similarly bullish. Futuresource Consulting pegs the global market for 4K TVs at 100 million in just three years, representing more than a third of every TV sold.

As those screens find their way into homes, the race is on to fill them with content that fully takes advantage of all that resolution. It’s why streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are rapidly building up their library of 4K videos, from original programs to feature films and documentaries. YouTube and Vimeo have also rolled out support for 4K video as well.

Whether your video is destined to be viewed on desktop monitors or TVs, creating a 4K “master” of your video is an investment in the future of your work, viewable on the highest quality displays ever built for the world’s living rooms.

It makes your HD video better

Many industries, such as wedding videography, don’t necessarily need to produce a 4K deliverable today. Even if you a client only requires an HD file, it can still make sense to shoot in 4K. All those extra pixels give you ample room to crop or reframe your video to improve image stabilization or remove extraneous detail without sacrificing resolution. You can pan across your 4K video using post-production software without rapidly running out of pixels.

Depending on how you’re shooting, a 4K-video file may also capture more than just additional pixels, but more color information as well. Armed with this additional color information, you can down-sample a 4K file to HD with improved color detail.

Screen Grabs Are Awesome


Enhance! Zooming in on a 4K screen grab / Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

Shooting in 4K doesn’t just mean high-quality video; it can enhance your still photography, too. Isolating still images from HD video produces images that are a measly 1920×1080 pixels in size or about 2 megapixels—barely enough for a decent print.

A 4K still frame, on the other hand, is a chunkier file, either at 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 pixels in size, depending on your setting. That’s equivalent to an 8-megapixel image, ample resolution to print by.

This doesn’t just mean that stills from your video production will be higher quality (though they will be), it also means you can use 4K video as a “burst mode on steroids” for moving subjects to capture images that your camera might otherwise miss. It’s not necessarily applicable in every situation of course, but it opens up new creative possibilities that aren’t available to you when shooting in high def.

Samsung and PDN recently launched the 4K Filmmaking Challenge, giving motion shooters the opportunity to shoot a short 4K film. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, an NX1 and a profile in a print PDN/Samsung supplement. Check it out at

June 3rd, 2015

Eddie Adams Workshop Deadline Extended: An Alum Offers Application Advice

National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist during an editing session at the 2014 Eddie Adams Workshop. Photo © Nancy Borowick

National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist during an editing session at the 2014 Eddie Adams Workshop. Photo © Nancy Borowick

Every Fall, one hundred hand-picked students gather in the Catskills Mountains of New York for a four-day, photo-intensive workshop. The program is tuition-free, and selection is based on each applicant’s submitted portfolio. The deadline for applications to the 2015 Eddie Adams Workshop (EAW) has been extended to June 5, 2015.

Photojournalist Nancy Borowick, recipient of 2015’s Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture, attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2014, but she didn’t get in on the first try. PDN asked Borowick to tell us what she learned from the application process and the workshop, and why she’s now volunteering as a team producer for the organization.

Photo District News: How did you first learn about the EAW?

Nancy Borowick: I first learned about the Eddie Adams Workshop when I was an undergrad. One of my professors mentioned it after we learned about (Eddie Adams’s) work and I was instantly hooked.

PDN: When did you first attend? Did you get in the first time you applied?

NB: I attended in 2014, just last October. I finally got in, after three failed attempts! Each rejection was hard, but with each one, I moved forward and continued to learn and grow and develop my skills as a young photographer.

When I felt I had a strong enough body of work that I was proud of, and a more clear sense of the world I was trying to break into, I applied one last time. Fourth time’s the charm, right? (more…)

April 28th, 2015

U.S. Copyright Office (Once Again) Studying Copyright Struggles of Photographers

The U.S. Copyright Office has published a call for comments from photographers and visual artists about how their works are “monetized, enforced and registered” and about “obstacles” artists face protecting their copyrights “when navigating the digital landscape.” The U.S. Copyright Office announced the research initiative April 24 in the Federal Register. The written comments are due by July 23.

What action, if any, the U.S. Copyright Office takes as a result of its research remains to be seen. “We just want to get an overview of the landscape,” says spokesperson Catie Rowland. “We’re just researching it, to see where it leads. There are a lot of concerns. We want to see if we can address them.” (more…)

April 27th, 2015

Follow the 2015 PDN’s 30 Photographers on Tumblr, Instagram

An image from “Lumière,” a series by Sarker Protick, 2015 PDN's 30.

Photo © Sarker Protick

PDN’s April issue included the annual PDN’s 30 feature, in which we profile 30 new and emerging photographers to watch. As we’ve done in years past, we’ve put together a list of links to their Tumblr blogs. This year we’re also throwing in links to their Instagram feeds.

Social media serves as an important marketing tool for many photographers—not just those in the early stages of their careers. Increasingly, clients who hire photographers for social media-based campaigns pay attention to the way photographers engage with their audiences on platforms like Tumblr and Instagram. Following these photographers not only allows us to see the great images they’re posting to social media, it also provides insight into how they are using these platforms to promote themselves and their work. (more…)

March 25th, 2015

Staging News Photos: Take This Ethics Quiz, Alex Garcia's blog., Alex Garcia’s blog.

Inspired by the uproar over the staged photo included in a series that won a World Press Photo prize (later rescinded, for different reasons), photographer Alex Garcia has posted an ethics quiz for photographers. Garcia describes five  situations in which photojournalists can find themselves in ethical gray zones, and asks: What would you do?

What his quiz adds to the current debate is a heavy dose of reality.As Garcia points out, “In this debate, I haven’t seen a lot of candor about how difficult it can be to uphold standards in the myriad of situations that photojournalists face.” Garcia, who says he has shot 6,000 newspaper assignments, tells PDN that he describes two of the situations exactly as they happened to him. The others are mash-ups of problems he’s encountered and that every news photographer will recognize: meddlesome PR people, subjects who offer to rearrange their routines or schedules for the photographer’s convenience, or ask “What do you want me to do?”

How do you portray to your readers what the “truth” is in these situations that you’ve only got an afternoon to shoot?

After the sometimes heated talk about the World Press Photo controversy– and outrage about the photographer posing his cousin– Garcia says, “the quiz was a fun way to make a point without getting hot and bothered.” Garcia’s quiz is short. There are no grades. But he does suggest certain parameters for quiz prep:  “Make sure to go hungry for the whole day, pull an all-nighter, promise delivery of images to a client within an hour–just to simulate other factors in a photojournalist’s workday that can affect decision-making.”

You can find it here on his blog,

Related article
World Press Photo Disqualifies Controversial Prize Winner