December 8th, 2014

Luke Somers, Killed in Failed Rescue Attempt, Remembered for Compassionate Photos

© Luke Somers for Al Jazeera. Thousands of male and female protesters marched to the residence of President And Mansour Hadi to demand political reforms, December 7, 2012.

© Luke Somers for Al Jazeera. Thousands of male and female protesters marched to the residence of President And Mansour Hadi to demand political reforms, December 7, 2012.

Kidnapped photojournalist Luke Somers was killed December 5 in the midst of a failed attempt by US forces to rescue him from al Qaeda militants holding him hostage in Yemen. Somers, 33,  had been kidnapped in Sana’a, Yemen, in September 2013. He had been working in the country as a freelance photographer.

After President Barack Obama announced Somers’s death on Saturday, several news outlets that Somers had worked for, including Al Jazeera, and his agency, Corbis, shared samples of his photos, starting with images from Yemen’s revolution ousting President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. Writer Tik Root of National Public Radio, who had crossed paths with Somers while they were covering Yemen, said the photographer’s work “reveals his deep and persistent love for the country.”

Last week, the photographer’s captors released a video threatening to kill Somers if the US did not meet their unspecified demands. According to CNN, The Yemen Times and other news outlets had pleaded for Somers’s release, noting days before his death that he “loves Yemen.”

Citing an anonymous source, BBC reports that Navy SEALs had tried to rescue Somers from the compound where he was being held, but a gunfight broke out when the militants spotted the SEALs. Somers was shot, and then evacuated to a US navy ship, where he died.  Committee to Protect Journalists reports that this is the third attempt by US special forces to rescue hostages held in Syria and Yemen; all three failed to rescue captured journalists.

December 8th, 2014

How Photographer Stephen Crowley Works Around White House Photo Ops

A little Washington drama: Bill Clinton keeps Barack Obama waiting at a White House photo op. ©Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

A little political drama: Bill Clinton keeps Barack Obama waiting at a White House photo op in September. ©Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

New York Times photographer Stephen Crowley, an astute, keen-eyed observer of Washington politics, explains in an interview appearing in this month’s edition of PDN how he built his career working around obstacles to access. “They have their stage,” he says of politicians and their handlers. “I’m content to walk behind the cavalcade and observe.”

His series of images (above) of a September 19 meeting between President Barack Obama and ever-popular former President Bill Clinton is a case in point. Clinton was invited to the White House to celebrate the anniversary of AmeriCorps, a volunteer program his administration launched in 1994. It was supposed to be a feel-good photo op for Obama, whose ratings are low. But the mutual dislike between Obama and Clinton is no secret, and it wasn’t far from Crowley’s mind. He picks up the story from there:

“[They were] walking back to the oval office, right along a rope line. I was on a high ladder, missing that picture. Obama was working the rope line, then he walked off, and thought Clinton was with him. But Clinton was slowly working the rope line, making the President of the United States wait for him. And Obama was standing off by himself. He puts on his jacket, walks [back toward the rope line], and he’s still waiting for Clinton. That’s a gem of a moment. I made a whole sequence [out of it].”

Crowley notes there’s an element of street photography in his approach. “I had a lot of experience in Florida”–at the Palm Beach Post, where he started his career–”doing street photography. You went out and looked for features. I came up here [to Washington] and translated that, and it’s been an effective way of telling the story, pulling away from the press conferences.”

For more about Crowley, his approach to covering politics, and his alternative take on the controversy over diminished access by photographers to the Oval Office, see our interview in this month’s PDN.

December 4th, 2014

PDN Video Pick: A Spotlight on Underage Victims of the Illegal Sex Trade

(click “Play All” option for a two-minute trailer for the web version; click “Theatrical Version” to launch a 2:45 introduction to that version.)

Seattle photographer Tim Matsui and MediaStorm have just released The Long Night, a documentary film about teenage victims of illegal sex trade in King County, Washington. Matsui has focused on stories about sexual violence and human trafficking for more than a decade, and his new film is part of his multi-pronged project called “Leaving the Life.”

“I see the film as a broad audience outreach tool; it builds awareness,” he says, with hopes that it also serves as a catalyst for community dialogue.  His ultimate goal, he says, is to facilitate “a shift in cultural and institutional norms.”

He explains, “Some of the solutions lie in harm reduction, criminal justice reform, and police training,” to treat underage prostitutes as victims rather than criminals. “Others [solutions] are more generational: Are we teaching our daughters to be strong and self confident? Are we showing our sons how to respect and value women?”

Support for The Long Night included a $25,000 Women’s Initiative Fund grant awarded to Matsui by the Alexia Foundation in 2012. The Alexia foundation also provided post-production funding to MediaStorm.

The film is available in two versions: a 70-minute “theatrical release,” and a web version that’s presented in a series of short chapters. “We felt that breaking it down into components makes it a little more usable” to viewers who often can’t or won’t sit through an hour-long video online, says MediaStorm principal Brian Storm.

Both versions are available free-of-charge through December 7. The theatrical release is available on Matsui’s website; the web version is at MediaStorm.  After December 7, MediaStorm will charge a fee for the theatrical version, which will be available only on MediaStorm’s Vimeo feed. The fee, to be determined, will help defray production costs, Storm says. The web version will continue to be available for free on MediaStorm’s website.

Related:
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Tim Matsui on the Women’s Initiative Grant (for PDN subscribers)

December 3rd, 2014

Shortlist for Deutsche Börse $47,000 Prize Announced

© Nikolai Bakharev. Collection of the Moscow House of Photography Museum

© Nikolai Bakharev. Collection of the Moscow House of Photography Museum

The shortlist for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Prize was announced today.  The annual prize, which comes with 30,000 pound award (about $47,200 US), was established by The Photographers’ Gallery in London. It is given annually to a living photographer (or collaborative partners) to recognize a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication that has contributed significantly to photography in Europe.

The finalists are:
Nikolai Bakharev, nominated for his exhibition at the 55th Venice Biennale of images of bathers on public beaches in Russia, shot during the 1980s and 1990s.

Viviane Sassen, nominated for her exhibition “Umbra,” shown at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam. The show combined Sassen’s abstract photos, drawings and light installations with poems by Maria Barnas.

Zanele Muholi, nominated for her book Faces and Phases 2006-2014 (Steidl), featuring her black-and-white portraits of members of the LGBT community in South Africa, accompanied by first-person testimonies.

Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse, nominated for their book Ponte City (Steidl), about a 54-story apartment block in Johannesburg that has become a refuge for new immigrants to the city. The book, which includes 17 booklets, encompasses architectural plans, essays, personal accounts, and archival material.

The judges for this year’s prize are Chris Boot, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation; Rineke Dijkstra, photographer; Peter Gorschlüter, Deputy Director, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt and Anne Marie Beckmann, curator of the Deutsche Börse art collection.

The winner will be announced in May 2015 at an award ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery in London.

Related Articles
Richard Mosse Wins $50K Deutsche Borse Prize for The Enclave

Broomberg and Chanarin Win 2013 Deutsche Borse Prize

December 1st, 2014

4 Tips for Making a Lasting Impression with Photo Clients

Sponsored by Zenfolio

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Whether it’s on your website or in a directory listing, how you present your photography business online is crucial when it comes to booking a new client. Minnesota-based photographer Shelley Paulson has been shooting professionally for eleven years, and she showcases her warm, Midwestern-influenced style of wedding and portrait photography on Photographer Central to help grow her business. Follow her four tips to make sure you’re wowing your prospective clients and making a memorable connection.

1. Boost Your SEO
Clients won’t remember you if they can’t even find you. Optimize every online channel you have for SEO so that you’re showing up in search results. Most web-hosting providers have this feature built into their product so you never actually have to worry about getting your pages indexed yourself. There are also directories like Photographer Central that do all of the SEO work for you. After completing the easy set-up process, the Photographer Central team works on driving traffic to the site and getting more exposure for your photography business.

2. Showcase Multiple Shoots
When sharing your portfolio online, demonstrate your wide range of skills and artistic abilities by sharing images from more than one shoot. If prospective clients only view images of the same subject against the same background all with similar lighting, your breadth of experience will hardly come through. A wide range of variety lets a client know that their photo shoot isn’t going to be an exact replica of someone else’s and will assure them that the results of their shoot will be unique, personalized, and special. Sharing shots from multiple jobs also conveys that you’ve had more than one client. Show your experience to clients so they’re sure their pictures will come out just as amazing.

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3. Limit Your Genres
You might be adept at shooting in seven different categories, but someone looking through incredibly different portfolios in one place might become overwhelmed. If you specialize in fine-art photography and commercial work, don’t combine the two because it lessens the impact of your portfolio as a whole by confusing the overall aesthetic. Consider separating each genre out into separate sections or pages so that clients can choose to only look at the ones they’re most interested in. On Photographer Central, you have the ability to publish up to five separate listings in a single account. Use each one to display a unique portfolio.

4. Don’t Skimp on Styles
Whether you shoot in photojournalistic, black and white, with natural light, or more, clients benefit from seeing examples of your entire range. For clients who aren’t aware of the differences, doing this can actually help them realize their style preferences, and better communicate that when it’s time for a consultation. Photographer Central listings allow you to select which styles you shoot so clients easily sort according to their own preferences, allowing you to connect with clients who are looking for your exact set of skills.

As a professional photographer, marketing and advertising your business can turn into its own fulltime gig. Make sure you have the time and energy to focus on your art by taking advantage of the resources out there that can alleviate some of your burden. Photographer Central is the directory that lets you utilize all of these tips and make a great impression on your next client.

Sign up for a listing and save 20% with code GETSTARTED20.

*Promotional code expires on December 31, 2014.

November 26th, 2014

Obituary: Lewis Baltz, Age 69

Lewis Baltz, a star of the New Topographics movement of the late 1960s and 70s, has died. According to his longtime gallerist Theresa Luisotti, the photographer passed away at his home in Paris, France, on Saturday, November 22, 2014 of complications related to cancer and emphysema. He was 69 years old.

Along with Robert Adams, Frank Gohlke and Stephen Shore, Baltz was a major contributor to the New Topography, a movement that broadened the scope of landscape photography, famously bursting onto the art scene with the famed exhibition “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-altered Landscape,” at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, in 1975. Baltz is best known for his bleak suburban landscapes—stark images of manmade structures devoid of human presence—such as those in his seminal 1974 book, The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California.

"The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California"

“South Wall Mazda Motos, 2121 East Main Street, Irvine” on the original cover of “The new Industrial Parks near Irvine, California” as published by Castelli Graphics in 1974.

Baltz was born in Newport Beach, California, on September 12, 1945. His parents owned a mortuary business. The rapidly developing Southern California suburbs heavily influenced Baltz; he witnessed firsthand the cities’ sprawl, devouring the landscape with concrete and asphalt as it spread.

He was exposed to photography and art as a teen, when he took a job working in a camera store in Laguna Beach and was mentored by its owner, William Current. He would study at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Claremont Graduate School.

After the “New Topographics” show at Eastman House, the Castelli Gallery in New York exhibited work from The New Industrial Parks, and by 1977, his work was included in the Whitney Biennial.

His books Park City (1980) and San Quentin (1984)would form an informal trilogy with The New Industrial Parks, exploring the role of humanity’s use of technology to shape the American landscape. The exploration would culminate in his 84-image Candlestick Point project, which documented an open space between an airport and sports stadium where, thanks to development, all signs of nature had been stamped out.

Baltz moved to Europe in the late 1980s, began working with color, and eventually started teaching graduate courses at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He is survived by his wife Slavica Perkovic and his daughter Monica Baltz.

November 24th, 2014

UK Orphan Works Law Takes Effect: Similar US Law Is Increasingly Unlikely

A controversial “orphan works” law, making it legal under certain conditions to use photos and other creative works belonging to copyright owners who cannot be located, took effect took effect October 29 in the United Kingdom. Efforts to enact a similar law in the US continue to languish.

Orphan works laws reduce the legal risk for publishers, film makers, museums, libraries, universities, and private citizens who want to use copyrighted works, but cannot locate the copyright owners of those works.  The laws are intended to make the works available for public benefit, provided users conduct a “diligent search” for the owners before using the works. But photographers, artists, and their trade groups have resisted the laws, fearing they will end up protecting infringers who don’t search diligently for copyright owners. Some opponents fear that orphan works laws may even give infringers incentive to turn traceable works into orphan works by stripping away credits and other metadata.

But so far, the new UK law is causing little worry. “I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for photographers,” says David Hoffman of Editorial Photographers UK (EPUK).

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and other US photo trade groups that issued dire warnings two years ago that the UK law would bring about “a firestorm of international litigation” are mostly quiet now.  “I think the law they’ve come out with [in the UK] is pretty reasonable,” says Eugene Mopsik, the outgoing executive director of the ASMP. Read the rest of this entry »

November 21st, 2014

Adobe Spotlight: Tim Landis’s Extraordinary Instagram Scenes

Sponsored by Adobe

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All photos © Tim Landis

While many photographers say they picked up their first camera before adulthood, creating beautiful images is a skill that can be acquired at any time. Photographer Tim Landis is proof of this—while he says that he has always been drawn to visual storytelling, it wasn’t until after the birth of his children that he became interested in the medium. His wife, Staci Landis, began her own wedding and portrait photography business, and after relocating from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin in 2008, Tim became her second shooter.

“I began to really love telling stories and wanted to work hard at developing my skill in photography,” he recalls. “There was a beauty I was drawn to of capturing moments that were unique and wouldn’t happen again. Bringing real moments and scenes to life in a photo was intriguing for me.”

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Above: Two outdoor scenes showcasing Landis’s knack for capturing and enhancing beautiful light.

Landis began to study the basic rules of photography and hone his composition and lighting technique. But it was through constant picture-taking that he was really able to learn about his camera and the tools he was using. And, as most photographers do, Landis looked to successful photographers for inspiration in developing his own visual style.

Today, Landis has over 632,000 followers on his @curious2119 account on Instagram, an achievement that he never expected. “My Instagram following began like everyone else: I downloaded the app and started taking photos.” His direction into stunning landscape photography began out of practicality: at the time, Landis was traveling daily around Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota for work, providing the perfect setting to be able to practice and improve his shooting technique.

It wasn’t long before his Instafame was set into motion—a particular landscape image caught the eye of an editor at The Huffington Post’s Arts section, and Landis was contacted to feature his mobile work on the site. Shortly after, his account was also featured on Instagram’s blog, followed by an addition to the site’s Suggested User list. As his following grew, Landis says, “I realized I had an amazing opportunity to do something I love and feel connected and passionate about.”

Launch Instagram fame
Above: The wintery image that first drew the attention of The Huffington Post.

Landis finds that his followers are drawn to the simplicity of his imagery. He aims to capture as much as he can in camera, and while editing his images, he enhances what is already there. “For example,” he explains, “taking the existing light in a photo and using post processing to enhance and sometimes even change the mood of that light to portray what I was seeing in my mind as I photographed the scene.” And sometimes, he says, he discovers a new direction while he’s in editing mode, and changes the image in an entirely new way.

Even though Landis’s visual style is to keep his images natural-looking and authentic, he relies on tools like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC to bring his stories to life. “No matter how good of a job you do taking photos and achieving a certain look in camera, it’s important to be able to have post processing aids such as Lightroom and Photoshop.”

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Above: Before-and-after shots highlighting the changes that Landis makes in post with Lightroom.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has long been Landis’s program of choice, but he recently picked up Photoshop CC for when he needs “more extensive manipulation.” Lightroom, he says, is most useful for organizing photos, creating collections and editing a large number of RAW files straight from his camera. The program also has the ability to sync to mobile devices, which comes in handy for Landis’s social media shots. Photoshop CC, he explains, is better when he needs to spend a bit more time focusing on specific edits. “I like the ability to work with layers and the photo retouch tools in Photoshop,” Landis says. Layers allow users to have more control over their edits, working on top of the image without affecting the original. Photoshop CC’s retouch tools include the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, Spot Healing Brush and Patch tool, all which assist in precise editing of pixels within an image, and can be performed on a separate layer.

Landis also utilizes a couple of Photoshop’s tricks for streamlining workflow. Custom actions for repetitive processes (such as resizing images or saving all images as a different file type) are easy to make, and he also finds Batch Editing extremely useful for creating a consistent look in his series in a quick and efficient way.

Developing a consistent style is one of the most important aspects of photography, and post processing is key to achieving a personal voice. Landis says: “Post processing is essential for anyone serious about digital photography because it gives you the opportunity to put finishing touches on your work and put your own signature on your style.”

To learn more about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC, visit www.adobe.com. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, offering both programs and more, is 9.99/mo.

November 21st, 2014

PDN Video Pick: Pitchfork’s Interactive Mini-Site for the 2014 Basilica Soundscape Festival

Basilica Soundscape

Pitchfork, the influential music website that has grown to include a quarterly print magazine and three art and music festivals, has launched a new mini-site to showcase videos made during September’s Basilica Soundscape Festival. The custom site, which lives at basilica.pitchfork.com, features videos of 12 artists performing at the third iteration of the annual festival, held on September 12 & 13, 2014, in Hudson, NY. Each video is a performance from the festival interspersed with meditative footage shot in the idyllic town and countryside surrounding the festival venue.

The Basilica mini-site was designed and developed by William Colby, who co-directed the videos with Jim Larson. Both are part of the in-house video team at Pitchfork.

Pitchfork has been at the vanguard of creating innovative displays of photos and videos on the Internet, as we highlighted in our feature (subscription required) on the site’s “cover stories” in late 2013.

On the Basilica site, it’s possible to watch every video without a single click, thanks to the site’s minimal design: There’s a small navigation menu at the top right of the page, but visitors can scroll down through each auto-playing video. The performances run the gamut from modern metal like White Lung and Deafheaven, to a string quartet led by the Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, and a deliciously funny reading of an essay on the gender politics of authenticity by Meredith Graves, of the hardcore band Perfect Pussy.

The mini-site is visually compelling, and is yet another example of Pitchfork’s commitment to experiment with new ways to deliver images to its readers.

 

 

November 20th, 2014

Gear Roundup: Must-rent Equipment from CSI Rentals

Sponsored by CSI Rentals

For many photographers and videographers, few things in life are more precious than gear. As the page turns on 2015, visual storytellers have a surplus of technological riches available to them, and at equipment rental hotspots like CSI Rentals in New York City, it’s easy to keep up with changing technology and trends. CSI makes the process even easier with perks like a mobile website to reserve gear, and nationwide shipping for shoots that take you outside of the city. Here are a few products to keep on your radar for your next project.

1) Canon Cinema C100 with Dual Pixel AF Sensor
Canon C100
CSI Rentals offers many different cinema cameras and packages. Among them is the new, upgraded Canon C100 with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. The EOS C100 offers an autofocus mode to help ensure sharp focus and smooth focus transitions. The upgrade provides a new Continuous AF (Autofocus) function for all autofocus lenses, using Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology.
CSI Rentals daily / weekend rate: $195

2) Canon 7D Mark II

canon 7d mark ii
CSI Rentals also now rents the latest Canon 7D Mark II, the first EOS DSLR to run dual DIGIC 6 processors, a one-two computational punch that powers a 10 frames per second (fps) burst mode. Canon bumped up the buffer to accommodate up to 31 RAW images or 1,900 JPEGs, vastly surpassing the original 7D’s 130-JPEG buffer. The 7D Mark II also employs a new 65 cross-type AF system for better low light focusing as well as an improved version of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF found in the C100 above.

The 20-megapixel 7D Mark II uses a newly developed APS-C-sized sensor with a native ISO range of 100 to 16,000 for stills and video. The camera records 1920 x 1080/60p HD and features a 3-inch display or a viewfinder with a 100-percent field of view that can overlay data such as an electronic level display or a grid. Built-in GPS is also on hand for geo-tagging images. The 7D Mark II’s magnesium alloy body offers four times the moisture and dust resistance of the original 7D so inclement weather shouldn’t be an obstacle to your shoot.
CSI Rentals Daily/weekend rental rate: $60

 

3) DJI Ronin Handheld Gimbal
DJI_RONIN
CSI Rentals has a full line of camera rigs, sliders, and stabilizers, and has recently added the new DJI Ronin handheld gimbal to its lineup. Famous for its drones, DJI has its own brushless gimbal based around the company’s 3-axis stabilized Zenmuse technology—the same found on its flying machines—for run-and-gun filmmaking. The Ronin will support a wide range of camera bodies—from Micro Four Thirds cameras like Panasonic’s GH4 to cinema cams like the RED Scarlet. A tool-less balance adjustment system simplifies your set-up and DJI promises you’ll be up and shooting (and running) in five minutes. A SmoothTrack Control features gives a single camera operator the ability to turn rapid tilting and panning into smooth, stabilized movements. The included remote control lets a second operator wirelessly pan and tilt the Ronin while the first operator physically moves the device to compose a shot. An Upright Mode lets you flip the gimbal over so you can bring the camera closer to eye level.
CSI Rentals Daily / Weekend rental rate: $225

 

4) Blackmagic Design URSA
Blackmagic-URSA-PL-Camera
Designed to be operated by either large crews or a single operator, the URSA sports a pair of 5-inch touch screen displays on both sides for control over audio and other camera settings. There’s a huge 10-inch flip-out LCD for framing your scene or navigating through the camera’s menu. The guts of the URSA are composed of a Super 35mm-sized, 4K image sensor that supports frame rates up to 60p and 12 stops of dynamic range. It also boasts a global shutter. BlackMagic’s pitch with the URSA is its future-proofing. The sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed so sensors can be field-upgradeable and you can mount either EF or PL lenses to the camera body to suit your needs. You can record either ProRes or Ultra HD 12-bit lossless Cinema DNG RAW to a pair of hot-swappable CFast cards.
CSI Rentals Day / Weekend Rental Daily rate: $350

 

5) iKan iLED 312
ikan led 312
There are plenty of new lights to illuminate your production. Among the newcomers that caught our eye is the iKan iLED 312. This on-camera LED delivers a wide-angle 60-degree beam for consistent lighting with a variable color temperature between 3200 tungsten and 5600K daylight. A dimmer can adjust light intensity from 10 to 100 percent and a built-in LCD display gives you a read out on all of the light’s vitals: brightness level, color temperature and remaining battery life.
CSI Rentals Daily/ Weekend rate: $35

 

6) Profoto B1
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Another lighting must-rent is Profoto’s B1 500. This battery-powered monolight lets you cut the cord so your flash can always be with you. Compatible with the full range of Profoto light modifiers, the B1 offers TTL metering for Canon and Nikon cameras with the company’s Air Remote. At 500 Watts, it’s about 10x more powerful than speedlights for when freezing action and getting studio results outdoors is a must.
CSI Rentals Daily / Weekend rate: $50

If you’re in the New York City area, you can stop by CSI Rental locations in Manhattan or Brooklyn to speak with a rental expert onsite. It’s one thing to watch a YouTube tutorial, quite another to speak with an expert in the flesh with the technology in hand.  Visit www.csirentals.com to see their locations, inventory and rates, and check out their app for iOS and Android mobile devices.