July 29th, 2014

On Board with Duggal—PDN attends The Summer Duggal Gatsby Party

Photo District News and Rangefinder representatives. Photo © Morgana Skelton

Photo District News and Rangefinder representatives. Photo © Morgana Skelton

As a media partner, PDN was present at The Summer Gatsby Party thrown by Duggal Visual Solutions on June 26, along with staff from our sister publication Rangefinder. Clients, partners and friends of the Duggal brand were treated to four hours aboard a yacht circling New York City. The Great Gatsby-themed soiree asked attendees to arrive in all-white attire to set the mood for the evening event, which included live music, a catered dinner, an open bar, a photo booth and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, all aboard the Cornucopia Majesty Yacht. Read the rest of this entry »

July 28th, 2014

Photographing Police Is Legal in Texas, Too, Judge Rules in First Amendment Case

A federal court judge in Texas has rejected an argument that the right to photograph or videotape police officers “is not recognized as a constitutional right,” clearing the way for a citizen’s civil rights claim against the City of Austin, its police chief, and various Austin police officers.

“The First Amendment protects the right to videotape police officers in the performance of their official duties, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane wrote in the decision handed down last week.

The judge also rejected an argument by the defendants that they should be immune from prosecution in the case because the right to photograph police officers performing their duties was not clearly established when they arrested the plaintiff on three separate occasions.

“A robust consensus of circuit courts of appeals that have addressed this issue have concluded that the First Amendment encompasses a right to record public officials as they perform their official duties,” the judge wrote, citing several right-to-record decisions favorable to plaintiffs from around the country.

The plaintiff in the Texas case, Antonio Buehler, was first arrested on January 1, 2012, when he photographed two Austin police officers engaged in a traffic stop in a parking lot. Buehler was refueling his truck nearby when he heard one of the officers yelling, then saw a passenger of the stopped vehicle being “yanked violently” out of the car and thrown to the ground.

Buehler started taking pictures from a distance, and asked the officers why they were abusing the passenger, according to court papers. One of the officers approached Buehler and arrested him for “resisting arrest, search or transportation” after accusing Buehler of spitting on him, according to court documents.

Buehler filed a complaint with the police, but he alleges that no action was taken. He ended up forming an organization called Peaceful Streets Project to help inform people about their rights “and hold law enforcement accountable.” The organization now routinely video records police officers to prevent and document police brutality, according to court papers.

Buehler was subsequently arrested for recording the arrest of a man in downtown Austin on August 26, 2012. He was arrested a third time about a month later, also for video recording police performing their duties. Both times he was charged with Interference with Public Duties.

In response, Buehler sued for violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also alleged false arrest, excessive force, unlawful search and seizure, and malicious prosecution.

In addition to refusing the city’s motion to throw out Buehler’s federal civil rights claims, Judge Lane sustained his claim for false arrest; his claim that the city and its police chief failed to establish a policy, train, and supervise city police officers about the rights of individuals to record police; and his various state law claims.

But the judge dismissed parts of Buehler’s lawsuit, including claims for malicious prosecution and excessive force, because Buehler’s allegations didn’t meet the legal standards required to sustain those claims.

The ruling was not a final decision on the merits of Buehler’s claims. Instead, it cleared the way for Buehler to continue pursuing the surviving claims.

Related:
PDN Video: A Photographer’s Guide to the First Amendment and Dealing with Police Intimidation

First Amendment Advocate Sues NYPD, NYC Over Right to Record Police Activity
Baltimore to Pay $250K for Videos Deleted by Police: A Vindication for Photographers’ Rights
Police Intimidation Watch: Boston to Pay $170K for Wrongful Arrest of Videographer
NH Town to pay $75K to Settle First Amendment Claim in Traffic Stop Video Case

July 24th, 2014

AP Photographer’s Killer Given Death Sentence in Kabul

Anja Niedringhaus in 2005. ©Associated Press/Peter Dejong

Anja Niedringhaus in 2005. ©Associated Press/Peter Dejong

The Afghan police officer charged with killing Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon last April has been sentenced to death by a panel of judges in Kabul, the Associated Press has reported.

Niedringhaus and Gannon were traveling under the protection of Afghan forces with a convoy of election workers  near the border of Pakistan when the police officer approached them, yelled “Allahu Akbar” — God is Great — and opened fire on them with an AK-47 rifle.

The officer, identified in press reports as Naqibullah, was sentenced Tuesday. His defense attorney argued that he was “not a normal person,” according to the AP report, but judges dismissed that defense when Naqibullah was able to state his correct name, age and the day’s date. Under Afghan law, the verdict is subject to at least two stages of appeals.

Related:
AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

July 23rd, 2014

Tim Matsui Wins $25K Fledgling Fund Grant for Sex Trafficking Project

From "Leaving the Life:" Lisa in her robe. ©Tim Matsui

From “Leaving the Life:” Lisa in her robe. ©Tim Matsui

Photographer Tim Matsui, who has focused on stories about sexual violence and human trafficking for the past decade, has won a $25,000 Fledgling Fund grant for his project called “Leaving the Life.” Matsui will use the grant to engage audiences and spur dialogue about sex trafficking of minors in the US. He plans to produce several videos, each about 15 minutes in length, tailored for different audiences.  For instance, one of the videos will examine prostitution among minors from the perspective of law enforcement, which traditionally treats minors in the sex trade as criminals rather than victims. Another short video will present the issue from the perspective of young sex workers.

“Fledgling is supporting the initial creation of this campaign which include several live screenings of the [short videos] and a basic web platform which, in the future, will be built out,” Matusi explains.

Fledgling Fund administrators did not respond to a request for comment.

Matsui won an Alexia Foundation Women’s Initiative Grant in 2012 to document new approaches by officials in Seattle to addressing the problem of the sex trafficking of minors. He will use footage he’s already shot for that project to produce the short videos for “Leaving the Life.” Separately, he has produced a longer documentary in conjunction with MediaStorm called “The Long Night.”

The Fledgling Fund, established in 2005, provides filmmakers with grants to “move audiences to action” with outreach and audience engagement initiatives. The fund has provided nearly $12 million to support 333 projects to date.

Related:
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Tim Matsui on the Women’s Initiative Grant (for PDN subscribers)
Frames Per Second: A Corporate Story, Told by a Journalist

July 23rd, 2014

Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to FAA’s Drone Cease-and-Desist Orders

A Federal appeals court in Washington, DC, has dismissed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by a search-and-rescue group in Texas that uses drones in its work, but both sides in the case are declaring victory.

Texas EquuSearch had tried to overturn an email from the FAA ordering the group to stop operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones, in its search-and-rescue operations, the AP reports.

The three-judge panel said it could not review the case because the warning notice the FAA sent to did not represent the agency’s final policy on drone use, “nor did it give rise to any legal consequences.” The FAA is expected to finalize its policy on piloting drones for non-recreational use next year. The policy could affect photographers who  use drones to carry cameras on assignment.

The court’s ruling fails to clarify what authority the FAA has currently to regulate the use of drones.  In March, a federal administrative court judge overturned a $10,000 fine the FAA had imposed on photographer Raphael Pirker for using a drone to shoot a video for the University of Virginia, because the FAA still has no regulations on the books regarding the use of drones.

Brendan Schulman, the lawyer for Texas EquuSearch, told the site Motherboard that the appeals court ruling last week  “achieves the desired result of clarifying that Texas EquuSearch is not legally required to halt these humanitarian operations.” Texas EquuSearch has resumed piloting drones, AP reports.

In a statement, the FAA said, “The court’s decision in favor of the FAA regarding the Texas EquuSearch matter has no bearing on the FAA’s authority to regulate” unmanned aircraft vehicles. The FAA also said it reviews the use of drones “that are not for hobby or recreation on a case-by-case basis.”

Related Article
Commercial Drones are Legal, Federal Court Says

http://pdnpulse.pdnonline.com/2014/03/commercial-drones-are-legal-federal-court-says.html

July 21st, 2014

New York Daily News Lays Off Nine Photo Staffers, Including David Handschuh

The New York Daily News has laid off at least 17 newsroom staffers, including five photographers and four photo editors, according to the New York-based publication Capital. Among those who lost their jobs were photographer David Handschuh, who has been with the paper for 27 years; and Jim Alcorn, the paper’s second ranking photo editor.

Reached by telephone, Handschuh told PDN that he was “absolutely speechless” yesterday when he was called into the office from an assignment, “and told I was no longer an employee of the New York Daily News.

“I was shown the door and walked out by myself.”

Handschuh says the other photographers laid off with him include Andrew Theodorakis, Aaron Showalter, Enid Alvarez, and Mark Bonifacio. Besides Alcorn, the photo editors who lost their jobs were Karlo Pastrovic, Kevin Coughlin, and David Pokress, Handschuh says.

According to the Capital report, Daily News staffers were particularly outraged about the decision to lay off Handschuh, who nearly died while covering the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center for the paper on September 11, 2001.

Handschuh posted a message on Facebook saying, “I know that with support of my family and friends, I will overcome this minor hiccup in life much as I did 12 years ago when I was crushed under the the falling steel and concrete [of the World Trade Center]. The buildings are back. The spirit survives.”

Handschuh, who is 55, says he’s been busy with various projects and had had no plans to retire from the paper. “I was hoping to end my career being carried out of there,” he says.

Despite a dearth of newspaper staff jobs, he is optimistic about finding another job. “I have passion for this business and a desire to keep telling stories. It’s [a matter of] just finding the right place,” he says

The layoffs were the latest round in a series of layoffs at the paper. Like many newspapers, the Daily News has been facing declining circulation and print advertising sales revenue in recent years. Capital quoted a memo from the paper’s management saying that the latest lay offs would “put our company in a stronger position to be more competitive and accelerate our plans for digital expansion.”

More details about the layoffs are available at capitalnewyork.com

July 21st, 2014

First Amendment Advocate Sues NYPD, NYC Over Right to Record Police Activity

A crusader for citizens’ rights to record police officers performing their duties in public has sued the City of New York and several police officers, seeking monetary damages for unlawful arrest, and a declaratory judgment in defense of citizens’ constitutional rights to record police without fear of intimidation or retribution.

Plaintiff Debra Goodman asserts in her lawsuit that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) “maintains a policy, practice and custom in which officers interfere with there rights of individuals who….are recording or attempting to record officers performing their official duties in public” and that top brass in the police department is ignoring the problem. Goodman sued July 14 in US District Court in New York City.

Goodman claims she was on a public sidewalk September 25, 2013 trying to record an interaction between a wheelchair-bound homeless person and police and emergency medical technicians. She was standing about 30 feet away from the scene, and “was not obstructing or interfering with the police officers,” when an officer approached her and began recording Goodman with his own cell phone, according to her lawsuit.

Goodman told the officer that she had the right to record him, but he didn’t have the right to record her, which resulted in a “verbal exchange” that ended quickly with Goodman’s arrest. According to her complaint, she was roughed up during the arrest and held for 25 hours.

Goodman asserts in her suit that the arrest was “motivated and substantially caused by [her] attempt to record events” and that police “demonstrated a callous indifference to and willful disregard of [Goodman's] federal and state protected rights.”

Prosecutors eventually dropped criminal charges against her; her lawsuit doesn’t specify what those charges were.

According to the lawsuit, Goodman regularly recorded police activity during the two years leading up to her arrest because “she believes such recording and posting on social media helps to ensure the police remain accountable to the public and prevents police misconduct.”

Goodman’s lawsuit cites two examples of NYPD officer misconduct coming to light because of video recordings made by eyewitnesses. In one case, an officer was fired for shoving a man violently off a bicycle, then claiming the bicyclist had run into him. In another case, the City of New York refused to defend a police officer in a civil lawsuit after he was caught on video using pepper spray on two women during an Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011.

To bolster her claim that NYPD has a pattern of interfering with citizens who record them, Goodman cites several incidents in which police allegedly arrested citizens for recording them, forcibly deleted videos showing policy activity, or ordered citizens to erase videos in order to avoid arrest.

Goodman’s lawsuit also cites cases in other cities–including Boston, Baltimore, and Indianapolis–where courts have upheld the constitutional rights of citizens to record police, and police departments have agreed to institute programs to train rank-and-file police officers about those rights.

In addition to asking the court for a declaratory judgment in defense of her own and others’ constitutional rights, Goodman is seeking a permanent injunction against the city and the NYPD from retaliating against anyone who “records or attempts to record” police officers performing their duties in public. She is also seeking unspecified damages for violation of her First, Fourth, and Fourtheenth Amendment rights, as well as for assault and battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution.

The City of New York has yet to file a response to Goodman’s lawsuit.

Related:
Baltimore to Pay $250K for Videos Deleted by Police: A Vindication for Photographers’ Rights
Police Intimidation Watch: Boston to Pay $170K for Wrongful Arrest of Videographer
Police Intimidation Watch: Cop Charged With Lying About a Photographer’s Arrest
NH Town to pay $75K to Settle First Amendment Claim in Traffic Stop Video Case
PDN Video: A Photographer’s Guide to the First Amendment and Dealing with Police Intimidiation

July 15th, 2014

Hey GQ: Do You Like Cedric the Entertainer & Elton Anderson’s Promo?

© Elton Anderson

Cedric the Entertainer © Elton Anderson

Having landed some of his first assignments on the strength of personal work, photographer Elton Anderson has been working on a personal project featuring his favorite celebrities and entertainers to attract the notice of more clients.  Anderson and actor/comedian Cedric Antonio Kyles (aka Cedric the Entertainer) share a common goal–to be featured in GQ–so they recently collaborated on a photo shoot they called “The Road to GQ” to get the magazine’s attention.

© Elton Anderson

Cedric the Entertainer © Elton Anderson

Anderson explains that he was able to approach Cedric by enlisting the help of a friend who was working on digital marketing for Cedric’s TV Land sitcom. Cedric and his team, along with stylist Apuje Kalu and Anderson, strategized ways of incorporating three things that are important to the comedian – fashion, comedy and family – into the shoot. It took place in April 2014. Box Eight Studio in Los Angeles provided a mix of outdoor and indoor locations, and Anderson’s wardrobe stylist brought in a ton of props. Anderson says they were able to shoot six looks in about four hours. “Cedric was funny (of course) but most of all he anticipated what I needed from him as a subject,” says Anderson.

© Elton Anderson

Cedric the Entertainer © Elton Anderson

Though the shoot has yet to lead to an assignment for GQ, Anderson says the results are encouraging. A few GQ editors gave Cedric some social media shout-outs, and Anderson says Cedric has had a few email exchanges with the magazine. “If anything,” Anderson says, “the images have strengthened my portfolio by leaps and bounds and allowed me to set up meetings” with other potential clients, including TV Land, BET, BONOBOS, Essence, Walmart, and Capitol Records.

© Elton Anderson

Cedric the Entertainer © Elton Anderson

Anderson, who would like to shoot more musicians for editorial and commercial clients, also recently photographed his favorite rapper, Kendrick Lamar. Anderson had only five minutes with Lamar, but says, “It’s really fun to take a celebrity and bring them into your world for a minute. I end up making really cool friends along with great imagery.”

© Elton Anderson

Cedric the Entertainer © Elton Anderson

And it’s a a good way to move your career forward. “Personal work is the fuel that keeps me growing creatively and professionally,” says Anderson, a former pharmaceutical sales rep who moved to Los Angeles to pursue photography full time in 2012. “Potential clients tend to gravitate heavily to the work I cooked up in my brain and executed versus something I got paid to do. I actually booked my first big jobs with Disney, Monster Headphones and Walmart because of my personal work so I’m motivated to shoot for myself on a more continuous basis.”

© Elton Anderson

Cedric the Entertainer © Elton Anderson

July 14th, 2014

Chicago Photographer Murdered In Apparent Case of Mistaken Identity

Wil Lewis, a 28-year-old photographer, was shot and killed in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon as he waited for a bus in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, according to reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

Police have arrested a man in the shooting, charging him with first degree murder.

Lewis’s father told the Tribune that police believe Lewis was mistaken for someone else. “Somebody basically shot him dead. They felt it was a case of mistaken identity. Wil was not in the wrong,” he told the paper.

Born in Guatemala, Lewis was adopted at age 7 and grew up in California and Wisconsin. Lewis, a graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, had worked as a photo assistant and digital tech for Kohl’s, Sears, Blackbox Visual and other clients. He opened his own studio, Wil Photography, in 2009. A friend told the Sun-Times that Lewis was due to begin a new job as a photographer at an online men’s clothing retailer this week. He and his wife, an art director at ad agency Leo Burnett, were expected to celebrate their second wedding anniversary next month.

 

July 10th, 2014

Announcing the new Elinchrom ELC PRO HD 500 Flash Head

Manfrotto Distribution, Inc. a leading global distributor of premium photo and video support products and accessories, has unveiled the world’s most complete, feature-rich compact studio flash unit from Elinchrom, the ELC PRO HD 500 Flash Head. The ELC is at the forefront of studio lighting technology combining everything a photographer needs and wants with the consistency and reliability that is expected from Elinchrom.

The ELC is the first unit to incorporate an OLED screen that displays every control for the most intuitive, flexible user experience ever. Recycling times are lightning fast while Swiss precision guarantees consistency of power output and color temperature, shot after shot. Furthermore the super-fast flash durations enables users to freeze motion like never before. The unit features Elinchrom’s stop based power scale enabling users to see the power in Joules, flash durations and many other settings. A jog wheel provides easy navigation of the new menu.

The ELC features three exciting new shooting modes including:

  • Sequence Mode – Allows users to sequentially trigger up to 20 ELC’s, in bursts or as a continuous cycle, to utilize the high frame rate of their camera
  • Delayed Mode – Provides the option of first or second curtain sync and everything in-between
  • Strobo Mode – Enables users to take a picture with stroboscopic effects within a single frame

“The ELC is the world’s most advanced compact studio flash enabling photographers to work with very low power flash and continuous light to bring their creative vision to life,” said Paul Zakrzewski, Director of Marketing at Manfrotto Distribution Inc. “The ELC’s auto-sensing multi-voltage power supply allows photographers to use the ELC Pro HD 500 anywhere in the world and its multiple shooting modes makes it one of the most versatile flash heads on the market.”

The ELC PRO HD 500 Flash Head is available at retailers nationwide. For more information visit www.elinchrom.us.

(Sponsored Post)