August 26th, 2015

Zun Lee’s Polaroid Archive Preserves African-American Self-Representation

© Zun Lee

The @faderesistance Instagram feed.

Photographer Zun Lee is dedicated to countering stereotypical, often negative views of the African-American family. While he was working on Father Figure, his book about African-American fathers, he stumbled on some old Polaroids that appeared to have fallen from a family photo album. He was intrigued to see how the Polaroids —”the Instagrams of their day,” he calls them — reflected “the way black people saw themselves in private spaces and in ways not intended to be seen, or judged, by others.” By searching yard sales and e-Bay, Lee has amassed 3,000 of these now “orphaned” mementoes and recently began posting them on a Tumbler and an Instagram feed named “Fade Resistance.”  After winning a Magnum Foundation Fellowship last week, Lee now plans to develop his Fade Resistance collection into an interactive digital archive that will allow the public and collaborators from other disciplines to add their own stories, videos and images. His long-term goal, he says, is “to encourage new ways of understanding black identity and representation in today’s world.”

courtesy of @faderesistance/Zun Lee Photo

A Polaroid as it appears on the @faderesistance feed.

The title of the project, Fade Resistance, echoes a phrase critic bell hooks used in an essay about vernacular African-American photography, in which she wrote that these snapshots are “sites of resistance” against pervasive stereotypical and racist depictions of African Americans. That the images were shot on Polaroid film appeals to Lee for a few reasons. First, he says, the instant cameras gave image makers the power to make their own narratives, without relying on a photographer or a lab. Also, the objects are one-of-a-kind, therefore more precious and fleeting, making preservation more urgent. In his proposal for the Magnum Foundation Fellowship, Lee wrote, “What had to happen to these families that they were no longer able to hold on to these valuable documents?” Lee scans the images as well as the notes written on the bottom or back of some images, which provide some clues to the subjects, and invite speculation: We can only wonder what happened to the man who wrote, “To Evelyn with love, hope and respect. Norris Turner. Good things come to those who wait. I’ve been waiting long enough (smile).”

On the @faderesistance Instagram feed, people frequently comment on the locations visible in the background of the images, as well as the hairstyles and clothing seen in the photos, which date from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Expanding the archive and its reach can help widen the search for more information about the stories behind each photo.

The Fellowship will allow Lee to work with the Brown Institute at Columbia University and collaborate with programmers on the development of the archive. In the future, he says, “multi-disciplinary collaboration would not only happen in the digital realm. I’m envisioning not just traditional print shows, but multimedia installations of this work in the future.”

The project may take years. Lee tells PDN, “I have a feeling this archive will be the gift that keeps on giving.” Until the interactive archive is complete, we can view —and enjoy—the photos of graduations, parties, beach outings and proud parents on Lee’s Tumblr and Instagram feed, and perhaps be reminded of our own special moments circa 1989.

Related articles

Magnum Foundation Grants 2 Fellowships to Support Collaborative Documentary Projects

The Father Figure

PDN’s 30 2014: Zun Lee

August 26th, 2015

(Instant) Film Is Not Dead: Fujifilm Sees Strong Sales of Instax Cameras

Just last month, we noted how Fujifilm was putting a number of films on the chopping block. But according to an investor presentation, the company is still doing a brisk business in instant cameras.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 7.41.02 AM

What accounts for the rise in sales? According to Fuji, it’s thanks to young girls ages 10-20, who grew up in the digital age and see making instant prints as a “fresh experience.”

Whether they will continue to do so in the future remains to be seen, but those still using film appear to be having fun, so it’s bound to endure a bit longer.

(Via Imaging Resource)

August 25th, 2015

Olympus Brings Improved Stabilization, New Viewfinder Tech to E-M10 Mark II


Olympus is bringing the five-axis stabilization it debuted in the E-M5 Mark II into its new OM-D E-M10 Mark II.

The five-axis stabilization system delivers up to four stops of stabilization, per CIPA standards. Beyond a steadier shot, the E-M10 Mark II will boast a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds image sensor and a redesigned body. Specifically, Olympus tweaked the dial and button shape and layout to make it easier to use the viewfinder.

Speaking of which, the E-M10 Mark II gets a brand new OLED viewfinder with 2.36 million dots and a 100 percent field of view (.62x magnification). It’s complimented by a new AF Targeting Pad that lets you move your thumb across the touchscreen to adjust your focus point. There’s also a Simulated Optical Viewfinder mode that boosts the dynamic range of the scene to more accurately mimic what the human eye would see, though this effect will not accurately represent what the camera is capturing.

The E-M10 Mark II offers an 81 point AF system with an eye detection mode. It has a native ISO range of 100-25,600. Shutter speeds top off at 1/4000 sec. mechanically but there’s an electronic shutter option to hit 1/16,000 sec. There will also be focus bracketing mode to capture a series of images with slightly different focusing depths. Using editing software with a stacking function, photographers could create images with a large depth of field even if they shoot at low apertures, Olympus said.

E-M10MarkII-SLV_right_M14150II-BLK_sAdditional features of the E-M10 Mark II include:

* 8.5 fps shooting up to 22 RAW images or 36 JPEGs

* touch autofocus via 3-inch tilting touch display

*1920x1080p30 video recording in ALL-I compression or 1080p60 in IPB compression

* new Clips video feature for recording 1,2,4 or 8-second clips that are merged in the camera

* 14 art filters

* a Live Composite mode for coaxing details out of bright areas in sequentially shot images

* 4K time-lapse that snaps up to 999 images every 5 seconds that are combined in-camera into a single 4K movie file.

* Wi-Fi

* focus peaking


The E-M10 Mark II body will hit stores in September in black and silver for $650 or for $800 with M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42 f3.5-5.6 EZ lens

It will also have a new grip accessory – the ECG-3, for $60. In addition to a little extra real estate for your hand, it features a release lever for the battery and memory card. E-M10MarkII-SLV_tilt-higt_M1442EZ-SLV


 See Also: Olympus E-M5 Mark II Review

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).” Read the rest of this entry »

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?

August 19th, 2015

5 Winners of 2015 Aaron Siskind Fellowships Named

© Juan Arredondo.

2015 Grant Winner Juan Arredondo’s “Born into Conflict” documents the lives of current and former child soldiers in Colombia. © Juan Arredondo.

The Aaron Siskind Foundation has announced the winners of its 2015 Individual Photographer’s Fellowship (IPF) grants on August 17. This year’s recipients are:

Juan Arredondo of West Orange, NJ
Amy Finkelstein of Takoma Park, MD
Robyn Hasty of Brooklyn, NY
Ed Kashi of Montclair, NJ
Natalie Krick of Longmont, CO

The first-round judges for this year’s fellowships were Hank Willis Thomas, artist; Lyle Rexer, critic; and photographer Tomas Roma. The jurors for the final round of judging were Renée Cox, photographer, activist, and curator; Britt Salvesen, Department Head and Curator of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Aidan Sullivan, Vice President, Getty Images. The Foundation received over 1,100 applications for its 2015 IPF grants.

The Aaron Siskind Foundation awards cash grants of varying amounts, up to $10,000, to support projects by photographers of all levels who reside in the US, are 21 years of age or older, and make work “based on the idea of the lens-based still image,” according to the grant guidelines.

The Foundation was created in 1991 to administer the grants, in keeping with photographer Aaron Siskind’s request that upon his death his estate would be used to support and inspire contemporary photography. Past recipients of the IPF have included Wayne Lawrence, Gillian Laub, Chris Jordan, Peter van Agtmael, Matt Eich, Gregory Crewdson, Ashley Gilbertson, Deana Lawson, Ron Jude and Lori Wasselchuk.

Related articles
Aaron Siskind Foundation 2014 Grant Recipients

How I Got That Grant: The Aaron Siskind Foundation’s Individual Photographer’s Fellowship

Aaron Siskind Foundation Announces 6 Winners of 2013 Grants

August 14th, 2015

Álvaro Laíz Wins 2015 FotoVisura Personal Project Grant

Photo By Álvaro Laíz

Kostya, a 33-year-old Udege hunter, looks out at the taiga from his cabin. © Álvaro Laíz

Visura announced today that Álvaro Laíz has won the 2015 FotoVisura Grant for Outstanding Personal Project for “THE HUNT,” his project documenting the shamanistic Udege people of Russia’s Far East taiga, or boreal forest. He received a $2,000 cash prize, a paid commission from the Washington Post to publish his work on its In Sight blog, as well as a lifetime sponsored GUILD membership with Visura.

Laíz became acquainted with the Udege when he traveled to Southeast Russia for the first time in the fall of 2014. He worked with national parks, scientists, rangers and Udege hunters. He lived with them for a month, making portraits and documenting their hunt. One hunter he met (seen in the above photo) died just hours after Laíz photographed him. The Udege practice animism, a belief that non-human life forms such as plants, animals and inanimate objects possess spirits. “Animism and the relationship among nature and culture are not really new to me,” Láiz told the Post. “I have been working on those topics for the last six years.” In fact, it was a legend of a poacher killed by the dark spirit of a tiger he had killed is partly responsible for his initial interest in the culture.

Three finalists for the Visura grant were also named.  Linda Forsell’s “Children who have Children” was named “Top Finalist,” and both Annie Flannagan’s “We Grew Up With Gum in Our Hair” and Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s “Where the River Runs Through were named “Finalists.”

The entries for the FotoVisura grant were evaluated by a six-member jury: MaryAnne Golon of the Washington Post; Judy Walgren of the San Francisco Chronicle; Simon Barnett of CNN Photos; Grey Hutton of VICE; Elizabeth Griffin of Esquire; and photographer Sebastian Liste, a member of NOOR.

August 13th, 2015

Duggal Sees Future in High Res Digital C Prints

“Pick your favorite Pacific Island.”

We’re staring at a small map attached to a enormous light box. Dangling from the box is a loupe, the kind jewelers use to scrutinize a diamond, and Ken Bledsoe, manager of fine art digital printing at Duggal is encouraging us to take a closer look. We do, pressing the loupe against the print and honing in on the South China Sea. The map’s tiny details, obscured by distance, spring into focus with startling clarity.

The high resolution print detail comes from a process generally thought to be on the wane: chromogenic printing, or what Duggal markets as HD-C prints.

The particular prints in question are rolling off Polielettronica’s LaserLab DS. Before it landed in Duggal’s New York offices, the technology was used by the U.S. military and intelligence services for printing high-resolution surveillance footage. The prints are sharp enough, Polielettronica says, that land surveyors can count individual trees in aerial images. The company agreed to sell the 50-inch LaserLab printer to Duggal exclusively for an 18 month run (an exclusivity that has recently lapsed). Smaller, 30-inch LaserLabs have been sold to several other photo labs in the U.S.


The LaserLab creates continuous tone prints at DPIs as high as 610 with an apparent resolution of 6100 dpi. The 50-inch model in Duggal’s shop can create a print as large as 50×100 inches on a range of media.

It is the first innovation in photographic processing that has excited CEO Mike Duggal in a while. “Digital photographic used to be the highest quality print you could make, but then inkjet really narrowed that gap,” he says. “This [Poliettronica] technology pushes photographic prints into another category.” Indeed, while other labs are scaling back their investment in c-printing, Duggal continues to invest, he says.

What justifies such an investment? After all, Poliettronica’s competitors, such as Durst and Oce (now owned by Canon), have abandoned the photo market as demand withers. Inkjet printers have gained a sizable foothold in the fine art market thanks to the range of materials they can print to and print lifespans that exceed dye-based c-prints. Indeed, Duggal’s New York facilities have several. Inkjet print quality has also improved—although whether it produces comparable (much less superior) quality to a c-print is a matter of fierce debate. As InfoTrends’ group director of the consumer and professional imaging group Ed Lee tells us, hard numbers on the actual number of photo labs still using c-print processes vs. inkjet are difficult to pin down but the trend lines in photofinishing in general have been pointing south for some time.

To Duggal, though, the investment in more traditional photographic processes begins and ends with the extreme resolution and quality obtainable through a continuous tone print. As others pull back, “we’re still investing in photography,” he says.

The Devil in the Details

Three prints are arrayed on a table: one is an inkjet, another a Lambda photographic print and the last is a print off the LaserLab. The difference between the inkjet and the photographic prints is noticeable immediately, but the difference between the Lambda and Poliettronica output is more subtle. You see it in the silvery sheen of a woman’s jewels or the crystalline details on a watch face. The difference is there, but you need to look for it. You need to get close.

These prints are not for every photographer, Duggal admits. Not every print is subjected to the kind of scrutiny that the HD-C print thrives under. They’re targeted at customers like photographer and artist Spencer Tunik whose work appears in museums and galleries where viewers will get right on top of them. Tunik’s work features hundreds of nude individuals sprawled out in public places. Even with large prints, viewers are always drawn in close to look at people’s faces, Tunik says. With 610 dpi HD-C prints, they can stand as close to the print as they desire and catch all the details. The HD-C print gives Tunik the “through the negative” print quality he says that photo gallery owners and museum curators desire.

Spencer Tunick eyes up his work.

Spencer Tunick eyes up his work.

August 12th, 2015

Suspect Arrested in Murder of Photojournalist Ruben Espinosa

Ruben Espinosa says he was barred from official events in Veracruz and harassed after this photo he took of Veracruz governor Javier Duarte was published on the cover of Proceso in April, 2014. Duarte reportedly sent staff out to buy every available copy of the magazine.

Ruben Espinosa said he was barred from official events in Veracruz and harassed after this photo he took of Veracruz governor Javier Duarte was published on the cover of Proceso in April, 2014. Duarte reportedly sent staff out to newsstands to buy up every available copy of the magazine.

Mexican authorities recently announced the arrest of a known criminal for the execution-style murder of photojournalist Ruben Espinosa and four others, according to reports by The Guardian and Al Jazeera. The killings occurred July 31 in a Mexico City apartment.

Mexican prosecutor Rodolfo Rios Garza told reporters that the suspect, who reportedly has a criminal record for rape and assault, was tied to the murders by crime scene fingerprints that matched fingerprints in a criminal database. The suspect has not been named by prosecutors.

Meanwhile, authorities are still searching for two other suspects seen on a surveillance video, leaving the apartment building around the time of the murders. Prosecutors say the three men shown in the video left the scene in a car that belonged to one of the female victims, according to the press reports.

Espinosa had covered social protests in the Mexican province of Veracruz for the newspaper Proceso, Agencia Cuartoscuro and other news outlets. He had also covered the murders of journalists in Veracruz, and advocated for the administration of Governor Javier Duarte to investigate those killings. He told other journalists he felt threatened by by the Veracruz government, and he relocated to Mexico City in June after he noticed his house was being watched and he had been followed.

Murdered along with Espinosa were his friend Nadia Vera, a social activist; Yesenia Quiróz and Mile Virginia Martín, both roommates of Vera’s; and a housekeeper, Alejandra Negrete.

On August 2, journalists held a demonstration in Mexico City demanding that the government clarify that Espinosa was targeted for his journalism, and not killed in the course of a robbery, as police investigators had first suggested. Journalists told the Mexican publication SinEmbargo that Espinosa had felt threatened by the Veracruz government, which has been suspected to have played a role in the deaths of at least 12 journalists and the disappearance of others.

Mexican Photojournalist Murdered in Mexico City, after Fleeing Threats in Veracruz
Fleeing Violence against Journalists, Veracruz Photographers Seeks Asylum in US

August 12th, 2015

Why All The Articles in PDN’s New Issue Are About Women Photographers

© PDN/Photo by Lauren Dukoff

© PDN/Photo by Lauren Dukoff

The articles in the September issue of PDN, now available to subscribers and in the iTunes store, offer our standard mix of technical advice, interviews, and insights into the photography business. The one difference is that all the photography we are featuring, from our news pages to End Frame, is by women photographers. Why are we interviewing and showcasing only women photographers in this issue? Because we can.

It didn’t take much extra effort to find women photographers who could provide valuable insights and inspiration on every topic we wanted to cover: lighting, video post-production, pursuing and publishing a long-term project, marketing, meeting the demands of fashion and portrait clients, and many other issues relating to establishing a name in today’s photography business. Women photographers have to contend with lingering stereotypes about what women can or can’t excel at. By filling every section of this issue of PDN with images and insights by women photographers, we hope to emphasize the breadth of talent, expertise and experience of women photographers working in every genre and style.

This issue, whose theme section focuses on portraiture and fashion photography, seemed like an opportune time to make such a statement. Zanele Muholi’s beautiful, searing exhibition “Isibonelo/Evidence,” which opened in May at the Brooklyn Museum, exemplifies a powerful (and empowering) use of portraiture in social activism. In the spring, Aperture announced it would be publishing a compilation of celebrated photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark’s advice on portraiture. When we arranged to publish an excerpt, we didn’t know that Mark was ailing, or that the book would be published posthumously. It seems fitting, however, that PDN‘s first all-women issue includes words and images by a photographer who blazed so many trails.

Another timely story is our feature on the proliferation of groups formed by and for women photographers. We’ve noted before that, in today’s fractured marketplace, photographers have benefited from forming peer networks, both online and in person, to exchange advice, support, and job referrals.  A few of these groups, we’ve noticed, look like all-boys’ clubs. Women have responded by creating their own networks and gatherings. Some, like Women Photojournalists of Washington, have been around for years, but new ones seem to be forming every day.

Why now? Organizers of these groups point out that while there are more women working in photography than ever, men still get the majority of solo gallery shows, editorial assignments, and other opportunities that lead to greater recognition. In an interview in the current issue, photojournalist Maggie Steber notes that the market is hard for every photographer now—not only women. Competition can be particularly intense for the few token slots set aside for more diverse voices and talents. Expanding the opportunities for success requires new ideas and cooperative effort. “Instead of going back to the same shrinking pie, we should be thinking differently,” says Jennifer McClure, who recently formed the Women’s Photo Alliance in New York City. “We should be thinking, ‘How do we make more pies?'”

–Holly Stuart Hughes, editor