July 22nd, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Casey Brooks and Acre Creative for Aéropostale

In a new 30-second spot for Aéropostale set to appear on a video billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square, Casey Brooks directs a squad of midriff-baring female dancers to illustrate the extreme elasticity of the brand’s new jeans. Creative director Brad Shaffer at the agency Acre Creative brought in Brooks to make the spot for Aéro, giving her a brief to capture an “appropriately sexy” vibe, evidenced by sweeping steadicam closeups of the stretchy jeans hugging the dancers’ curves.

“It’s not provocative, more positive,” Brooks says. She credits choreographer Mishay Petronelli with bringing an abundance of energy to the screen, choreographing seven different 30- to 45-second routines to seven different songs for Brooks to choose from when assembling the final cut with editor Manuel Barenboim. “It’s better for editing,” Brooks says of the music selection. “It gives you different energies to pull from.” The final spot features the Angel Haze track “New York.”

The dancers rehearsed for three days for the two-day location shoot in New York City. One took place on a rooftop in Brooklyn, and another in a warehouse in the Bronx. Petronelli, who has served as Beyonce’s stand-in on a recent world tour and will tour with Janet Jackson later this year, also appears in the video (you can catch her freestyling in front of a giant window). Brendan Stumpf was director of photography, and Ruy Sánchez Blanco the post producer.

The spot will run online as well as on a video billboard.

July 22nd, 2015

The Photographer Who Rocked Taylor Swift: Open Letter Helped to Expose “Hideous Terms” Concert Photogs Face

sheldonheadshot

There’s a neat symmetry to the Taylor Swift photo contract saga. It all began with an open letter, penned by UK concert photographer Jason Sheldon on his Junction10 blog, lambasting Swift for exploitative contract terms for her 1989 World Tour.

Sheldon’s open letter was sparked by Swift’s own public scolding of Apple for not paying artists during the three month free trial period of Apple music. And while Swift’s letter provoked a quick (or is that swift?) mea-culpa and an about-face from Apple, Sheldon’s appeal drew force more gradually from repeated media mentions, protests from news organizations and criticism from the National Press Photographer’s Association.

Shortly after the news broke that Swift’s team had altered its contract to appease critics, PDN reached out to Sheldon via email for his thoughts on the affair. What follows is an edited transcript.

PDN:  I’m wondering if you had any comment regarding the changes [Swift’s] team has made – do they go some (or all) of the way toward addressing your complaints?

Jason Sheldon: I’ve not had chance to examine the revised contract in detail – had a quick look and it appears to be a very positive step in the right direction. I think there are some minor points which I’d be happier tightening up, but I’m happy they’ve shown willingness to appreciate our rights a bit more.

PDN:  Are you surprised that your open letter has had the reaction and impact that it did?

Sheldon: I’m certainly pleasantly surprised it went viral.. It was good to have the support of publications like the Irish Times as well, who picked up on it and refused to agree to the terms of the contract.  It’s helped expose the hideous terms music photographers are sometimes forced to agree to (under economic duress) in order to carry out their jobs, and that is what it is – a job.

PDN:  Have you experienced any negative reaction (loss of work) from concert promoters or management teams because of your open criticism? 

Sheldon: Generally the feedback has been extremely positive on the whole. With various PR [reps] and promoters saying publicly that they agree with me – a few saying it privately as well. Of course, there has been some negative feedback which is to be expected, but most of it seems to come from people who have not read and understood the point of the open letter. These are usually the people that think we’re getting free concert tickets and living a parasitic existence off the back of the artist talent, which is certainly not the case. I haven’t lost any work from my stance, yet. But then, I’ve yet to apply for the Foo Fighters shows later this year.
July 21st, 2015

Taylor Swift Changes Photo Contract in Response to Online Outrage. Will the Foo Follow?

Jana Beamer | Flickr

Jana Beamer | Flickr

Evidently Taylor Swift doesn’t want there to be any bad blood between her 1989 World Tour and photographers. After an outpouring of internet outrage over her tour’s restrictive photo contract, Swift’s team has apparently relented.

Writing for Poytner, Benjamin Mullin notes that Swift’s team has removed elements that photographers had found objectionable:

According to a source who has seen the revised contract, Swift’s representatives are no longer empowered to forcibly remove images from the cameras of photojournalists. In addition, a stricture preventing photojournalists from using images taken at Swift’s concerts more than once has been loosened, allowing for some negotiation. And Swift’s representatives have agreed to credit photojournalists when the artist uses their photos.

Mashable has gotten a hold of the new contract and republished it here.

The changes were spurred by UK concert photographer Jason Sheldon and later by Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National  Press Photographer’s Association, who has been speaking out against Swift’s contract since Sheldon’s open letter to Swift went viral.

Swift is not the only high-profile musician under fire for restrictive contracts.

The Washington City Paper refused to send a photographer to the Foo Fighters’s concert after writing that the Foo’s contract “sucked.” Instead, they commissioned a cartoonist to draw the band during the show. A Quebec paper, Le Soleil, followed suit.

Related: One Simple Way to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

July 16th, 2015

Panasonic GX8, FZ300 Deliver 4K Recording, Faster Processing While Company Eyes Focus-Free Future

GX8_s_slant_H_HS12035_LVF_PopUp

Panasonic continues to expand the number of 4K cameras in its arsenal with the introduction of the new GX8 and FZ300. Beyond the new models, Panasonic said it was prepping a Lytro-like “post focus” capability for its new cameras that would leverage 4K recording and touch screens to allow users to adjust the focus point after capture. New lenses, too, are also in the works.

Let’s start with the cameras.

GX8

In addition to 4K video, the Micro Four Thirds-based GX8 is the first in Panasonic’s lineup to offer a dual image stabilizer–one for the camera body, the other for the lens–that work in tandem to combat camera shake at all focal lengths. According to Panasonic, most of its image-stabilized lenses will be able to work with the new dual stabilizer system in the GX8. When filming videos, the GX8 will employ a 5-axis hybrid stabilization that combines sensor shifting and digital corrections and is similar to the system used in the company’s video cameras.

The GX8 features a new 20.3-megapixel image sensor and quad-core Venus Engine CPU to drive continuous shooting at 8 frames per second in AFS mode and 6 fps in AFC mode. Dynamic range has been improved by a 1/3 stop over its predecessor, the GX7.

Like most recent Panasonic cameras, the GX8 will record 4K video (3840x2160p30) as well as 1920x1080p60 video in either AVCHD Progressive or MP4. Similar to the G7, the GX8 features a 4K Photo Mode that lets users shoot 4K video in any aspect ratio and isolate an 8-megapixel clip from a 4K video file during playback. According to Panasonic, the virtue of using 4K Photo Mode versus simply grabbing stills from 4K video is the ability to change aspect ratios and the faster shutter speed of 1/500 sec. that keeps 4K Photo Mode stills in sharper focus than 4K video frame grabs. The color range is also wider in 4K Photo Mode than it is during 4K video capture.

GX8_k_back_LVF_PopUp

There will be three new 4K photo modes in the GX8.

A 4K Burst Shooting mode captures frames at 30fps for the duration of your shutter press (up to 4GB worth of data). A 4K Burst S/S (Start/Stop) mode starts consecutive shooting with a single press of a shutter button and stops it with the second press. Finally, a 4K Pre-burst mode automatically records 30 frames before and 30 frames after your shutter press for a total of 60 4K video frames to choose from.

Other features of the GX8 include:

* a tilting OLED Live Viewfinder with a magnification ratio of 1.54X and a 100 percent field of view

* a free-angle 3-inch OLED touch screen display

* 240 fps Contrast AF system with DFD (depth from defocus) technology that calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating 2 images with different sharpness level while consulting the data of optical characteristics of the current lens to deliver a .07 sec. AF speed

* 49 AF points

* 1/8000 mechanical shutter speed and a 1/16,000 sec. electronic shutter

* improved low-light focusing down to -4EV with a Starlight AF mode to help users shoot stars in the night sky using autofocus by narrowing the AF zone

* Wi-Fi and NFC

* weather proof magnesium alloy die cast frame

* in-camera RAW processing

* focus peaking

The GX8 is due to ship in mid-August in two versions: all black and a model with a silver top with a black bottom for $1,200 (body only).

The FZ300

FZ300_slant_Hood

Panasonic also rolled out the successor to the FZ200. The new FZ300 delivers a similar optical package with a 25-600mm f/2.8 built-in lens with optical image stabilization and adds 4K recording and a new Venus Engine image processor to improve ISO sensitivity to a max of ISO 6400.

The FZ300 features a 12-megapixel image sensor, 4K video recording and the same 4K Photo modes as the GX8 above.

You can frame your compositions through a 1,440K-dot OLED LVF with a 100 percent field of view when shooting in 4:3.

Additional features of the FZ300 include:

* 3-inch, free angle LCD

* 12 fps continuous shooting in AFS mode or 6 fps in AFC

* .09 sec. AF speed with DFD technology

* low light focusing down to -3EV

* Wi-Fi

* 5-axis hybrid stabilizer for HD video recording

* focus peaking

* in-camera RAW processing

The FZ300 will ship in mid-October for $600.

Coming Soon: Post Focus Mode

According to Panasonic, a new Post Focus mode will leverage a 4K burst mode to compile multiple exposures which a user would then use to freely determine a focus point in the frame using a touch screen. Post Focus mode will come to both the GX8 and FZ300 later this year via a firmware update as well as future models not yet announced by the company.

100400_F40-F63_forDevelpmentRelease

Beyond the focusing capabilities, Panasonic also said it was working with Leica to develop a Leica DG 100-400mm f/4-6.3 telephoto lens for its Micro Four Thirds lineup. The lens would offer a 35mm equivalent focal length of 200-800mm and a dust and splash-proof build. Panasonic said its light weight and image stabilization would allow for handheld shooting out to the very end of the focal length.

The company is also prepping a Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 prime lens. Release date and additional specs for both lenses are not yet available. Product photography is preliminary.

25mm_F17_K_forDevelpmentRelease_slant

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: http://www.pulitzercenter.org/grants

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

July 10th, 2015

JH Engström, Wiktoria Wojciechowska Win 2015 Leica Oskar Barnack Awards

© JH Engstrom

© JH Engstrom

Swedish photographer JH Engström has been awarded the Leica Oskar Barnack 2015 Award, which comes with a 25,000 Euro prize, for “Tout Va Bien,” a project consisting of landscapes, portraits and diaristic snapshots. Engström’s award, announced this week at the Rencontres D’Arles in France, also includes a Leica M camera and lens.

Wiktoria Wojciechowska, who is Polish, has been named the winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award. She will receive 5,000 Euros and a Leica M camera and lens. Her winning project, “Short Flashes,” consists of street photos she made while living in China in 2013 and 2014.

The festival Rencontres D’Arles continues through this weekend and includes the announcement of several other awards.

The LUMA Rencontres Dummy Book Award, supporting the production of proposed photo book, was announced July 7. Yann Gross will receive 25,000 Euros towards the publication of his book titled The Jungle Book.

Yesterday photographer Tommaso Tannini’s book H. Said He Loved Us (published by Discipula) was named the winner of the Author Book Award, which comes with an 8,000 Euro prize. The juried award honors an outstanding contemporary photography book. Honorable mentions were given to Miguel Angel Toneron for his book The Random Series (published by Dalpine) and to Dima Gavrysh for his book Inshallah (published by Kehrer Verlag).

Related Articles
Evgenia Arbugaeva Wins Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2013

July 10th, 2015

Shortlist for $105K Prix Pictet Announced

Alixandra Fazzina was shortlisted for “A Million Shillings—Escape from Somalia,” her long-term project documenting migrants and refugees from Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula. © Prix Pictet Ltd 2015

Alixandra Fazzina was shortlisted for “A Million Shillings—Escape from Somalia,” her long-term project documenting migrants and refugees from Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula. © Prix Pictet Ltd 2015

The organizers of the Prix Pictet today announced the 12 photographers on the shortlist for the sixth cycle of the award, which was founded by Swiss private bank Pictet Group. At CHF 100,000 CHF ($105,487), the Prix Pictet is one of the richest prizes for photography.

Each of the six cycles of the Prix Pictet have centered on a particular theme related to sustainability. The theme for the sixth Prix Pictet is Disorder. In a statement announcing the theme at a reception in November 2014, Prix Pictet chair Stephen Barber said: “The eternal struggle between order and chaos is the central tension of our times. Throughout the world there are examples of attempts to impose order without a clear understanding of the long-term consequences of so doing. With each passing day the illusion of order is shattered in a thousand different ways.” Previous themes have included Consumption, Power, Growth, Earth and Water.

The shortlisted photographers for the 2015 prize are: Ilit Azoulay (Israel); Valérie Belin (France); Matthew Brandt (U.S.); Maxim Dondyuk (Ukraine); Alixandra Fazzina (U.K.); Ori Gersht (Israel); John Gossage (U.S.); Pieter Hugo (South Africa); Gideon Mendel (South Africa); Sophie Ristelhueber (France); Brent Stirton (South Africa); Yang Yongliang (China). Read the rest of this entry »

July 9th, 2015

How to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

Gabbo T | Flickr

Gabbo T | Flickr

It’s boom times for concert photographers who want to complain about the terms of their contract. Jason Seldon’s public letter to Taylor Swift drew huge interest from traditional media companies, followed by the public calling out of the Foo Fighters by the Washington City Paper.

But, like a lot of online griping, the spilling of rage pixels rarely results in change.

Writing in his blog, the Norwegian photographer Jarle Moe argues that concert photographers wouldn’t be on the receiving end of unfair or overly restrictive contracts if they stopped thinking of themselves as concert photographers:

“If more, if not all, concert photographers identified as journalists and with the ethics that follow in their work, photo contracts would be a thing of the past. Signing a photo contract should be unacceptable, not because it’s disrespecting you as an artist, but because it’s a violation of the ethics you follow as a journalist.

So stop thinking about yourself primarily as an artist. You are a [photo]journalist. You may create art, but it’s more to it than that. You are a part of the freepress. Encourage new photographers to identify as journalists. Make the journalism be as natural to our profession as the artistry, and heed to the obligations that come with that label.”

Sound naive? According to Moe, Norwegian concert photographers banded together under a similar ethos:

“The Norwegian press as a whole, has made a joint statement to never sign any contracts put forward by artists or their management pushed forward by concert photographers, as can be read here. In Norway, most concert photographers are, in essence, photojournalists and identify more or less as such. And because of that, we are part of the press. We are not 100 concert photographers, but 7000 journalists.

Together we have a powerful voice. We generally do not meet any photo contracts, and the few we do, never gets signed. And because of that, contracts get fewer and fewer. With the press associations and unions behind us, we actually have a powerful voice against such demands, and the contracts get dropped (though, it has to be said that the local promoters have done tremendous work as well in that regard, but without all of the press acting like a collective, they would have no incentive to waiver the contracts). The aforementioned Foo Fighters contract? Guess what: that was not presented to the photographers in Norway. I can’t even remember the last time I “had” to sign a contract. That’s what having some integrity gets you.”

Sounds like an interesting strategy, but is it workable in a market as large and competitive as the U.S.?

July 9th, 2015

Sotheby’s and eBay Partner to Make Rare Photo Prints Avail to Auction Site’s Audience

A print of Ormond Gigli's "Lips" is estimated to fetch between $10,000-$15,000.

A print of Ormond Gigli’s photograph “Lips” is estimated to fetch between $10,000-$15,000.

While people can bid in-person during the July 22 Sotheby’s auction, Contemporary Living—Photographs, Prints & Design, they’ll be competing with eBay users from all over the world for prints by the likes of Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Sally Mann, Araki and many other greats. eBay users have had access to certain Sotheby’s auctions since the brick-and-mortar auction house and popular auction site announced their partnership in April of this year.

“Everyone—regardless of their location—will see the same item offered in the Sotheby’s New York salesroom and on eBay simultaneously and have the ability to bid online in real time,” said eBay Director of Emerging Verticals and Live Auctions Megan Ford, in a written statement issued to PDN. “The Contemporary Living sale is especially exciting for the wide variety of work from renowned artists, photographers, and designers.”

Among the many auction highlights is “Talmont II, Frankreich,” a mural-sized photograph by Elger Esser that has an estimate of $20,000–$30,000; “Kusho #2,” an image by Shinichi Maruyama estimated at $15,000–$25,000; Sally Mann’s “Untitled (Deep South #20),” estimated at $10,000–$15,000, and “Shipbreaking #50, Chittagong, Bangladesh,” by Edward Burtynsky, estimated at $10,000–$15,000. Uneditioned prints by Garry Winogrand, Daido Moriyama, Ruth Bernhard, O. Winston Link, Francesca Woodman, and Sebastião Salgado are on offer for estimated prices between $2,500 and $30,000.

Shinichi Maruyama's mural-sized print of "Kusho #2" is expected to sell for between $15,000-$20,000.

Shinichi Maruyama’s mural-sized print of “Kusho #2″ is expected to sell for between $15,000-$20,000.

Existing eBay users and those new to eBay can register here to bid or follow the auction. The general public can also preview the sale without registering.

Related: Photographers Could Get Royalties on Auction Sales Under Proposed Federal Bill
Managing Your Inventory of Limited-Edition Prints

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.

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Charlie Harbutt: Departures and Arrivals