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.

Related Articles
Obituary: Photographer Charles Harbutt Dies

Charlie Harbutt: Departures and Arrivals

July 7th, 2015

Going Mobile: Light Creatively with Gear You Can Actually Carry

Sponsored by ExpoImaging

Packing and transporting location-lighting gear can take a toll on any photographer. As New York City-based freelance photographer Erik Valind explains, “When using bigger strobes and modifiers, the size and logistics of lugging gear around with you is often times enough of an excuse to leave everything at home.”

Not one to compromise, Valind first found Rogue FlashBenders about three years ago, and he became hooked on the entire line of Rogue Photographic Design’s highly portable light modifiers. Now, says Valind, “I use every piece of their lighting modifier lineup.”

Rogue’s tools include FlashBender Reflectors, flexible modifiers for use with on-camera and off-camera flashguns, as well as soft boxes, honeycomb grids, and gels. Available in a variety of sizes, FlashBenders are lightweight and pack flat for streamlined storage.

Here, Valind shows us two different quick mobile lighting setups.

1) Clamshell Lighting Goes High Key

ESV2826-Edit_PRINT_v2

Photo © Erik Valind

High-key portraiture is less about the quantity of light and more about controlling the light. Valind’s gear for this shoot included two Phottix Mitros+ speedlights, two Rogue FlashBenders to control the light, and a 30-inch silver reflector.

For this symmetrical beauty shot, Valind wanted a “smooth transition in the shadows and an even, soft light on the skin.” To create even light on both sides of the model’s face, Valind used a boom to position a speedlight with a FlashBender XL Pro directly in front of the model, pointed down at a 45 degree angle. To complete the clamshell and to create fill, he placed the 30-inch silver reflector underneath the XL Pro.

The clean, white background was illuminated with the second speedlight positioned behind the model, facing the backdrop. To keep unwanted direct flash off the model, Valind used a FlashBender Large Reflector as a flag to block the light spill. Using the reflector as a flag allowed Valind to overexpose the background, rendering it pure white without affecting the rest of the image.

2
Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com.

2) “A Killer Beauty Portrait

ESV5085_PRINT

Photo © Erik Valind

For this second shot, Valind created a classic three-point lighting setup with a key light, fill light and hair light. “Remarkably,” Valind recalls, “the FlashBender was able to deliver on all three fronts.” To create a more distinctive look, he added color with Rogue Gels.

For the main light, Valind mounted the FlashBender XL Pro with the Strip Grid attachment to one of three flashes. The Strip Grid offers photographers a diffuser with a black fabric grid over the top. The diffuser softened the light on the skin while the grid helped direct the light to the front of the face. He added a ¼ CTO gel to give the model’s fair complexion a warmer, tanned look.

To lessen the intensity of the face-defining shadows, Valind added soft fill light with the FlashBender XL Pro and Diffusion Panel setup as a soft box. He attached a blue gel to the fill light to “add a cooling effect to the shadows below the cheekbone.”

Rounding out the setup, Valind placed a snooted hair light behind the model, this time adding a yellow gel to help the model’s blonde hair pop. As Valind points out, “With the addition of the Rogue Gels, we walked away with a killer beauty portrait using an incredibly mobile setup.”

4
Watch the step-by-step lighting video at RogueFlash.com

Just how mobile is Valind’s lighting kit? In his travel bag you’ll find his Phottix Mitros+ flashes along with his collection of the versatile Rogue FlashBenders, Rogue Grids, and Rogue Flash Gels. “Everything packs up so easily that I always have an off-camera lighting kit with me now,” Valind says. “No excuses!”

 

July 6th, 2015

Not Just Tay Tay: Foo Fighters Called Out by Washington City Paper Over Contract Terms

A photo posted by Foo Fighters (@foofighters) on

Taylor Swift isn’t the only big-time musician to be called out for a restrictive photo contract. On July 2, the Washington City Paper took the Foo Fighters to task over a contract that they said “sucks.”

They wrote:

If we signed it, we would have agreed to: the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band. Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.

That is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple.

The paper’s editors say they protested the terms, only to be told by the Foo Fighters’ management that they were standard and that they “protect the band” — which is more or less the same response from the Taylor Swift camp after her contract came under fire.

Will publicly airing and criticizing the terms of a contract force a change? It’s too soon to tell, but we’re just one more story away from a bona-fide trend.

July 1st, 2015

MoMA’s New Photography Show Expands, Explores “Ocean of Images”

© 2015 Lele Saveri "The Newsstand. 2013–14." Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

© 2015 Lele Saveri “The Newsstand. 2013–14.” Mixed medium installation. Courtesy the artist.

The Museum of Modern Art has announced that it has selected 19 photographers to be shown in the 2015 edition of its “New Photography” exhibition, opening in November.  The number of photographers in this year’s show is more than double the museum’s previous selections – and that’s appropriate, given that the subtitle of this year’s New Photography exhibition is “Ocean of Images.” 
 
The exhibition will examine the ubiquity of photography today and what the museum describes in its press release as “the Internet as a vortex of images, a site of piracy and a system of networks.” Many of the exhibited photographers experiment with moving images, online remixes of images, installations and images turned into three-dimensional objects.

The title of the photo is provocative in part because it isn’t new.  In a 2014 interview with PDN, MoMA’s chief curator of photography, Quentin Bajac, noted that back in the 1920s and 1930s, critics noted “the ocean of new images, that blizzard of images that is due to the arrival of the illustrated press.”

What will be new in “New Photography 2015″ may be the methods by which the exhibiting artists embrace the abundance of digital images. As Bajac told PDN, “Maybe each generation has that feeling that that new amount of images is going to be difficult to absorb, and yet they do.”

The artists in New Photography 2015 are:
Ilit Azoulay (Israeli, b. 1972)
Zbyněk Baladrán (Czech, b. 1973)
Lucas Blalock (American, b. 1978)
Edson Chagas (Angolan, b. 1977)
Natalie Czech (German, b. 1976)
DIS (Collective, founded in New York in 2010)
Katharina Gaenssler (German, b. 1974)
David Hartt (Canadian, b. 1967)
Mishka Henner (Belgian, b. 1976)
David Horvitz  (American, b. 1982)
John Houck (American, b. 1977)
Yuki Kimura (Japanese, b. 1971)
Anouk Kruithof (Dutch, b. 1981)
Basim Magdy (Egyptian, b. 1977)
Katja Novitskova (Estonian, b. 1984)
Marina Pinsky (Russian, b. 1986)
Lele Saveri (Italian, b. 1980)
Indrė Šerpytytė (Lithuanian, b. 1983)
Lieko Shiga (Japanese, b. 1980).

Now in its 30th year, the “New Photography” exhibition has been a showcase and springboard for photographers from around the world, including Mikhael Subotzky, Rineke Dijkstra, Doug Rickard and Viviane Sassen.

“New Photography 2015: Ocean of Images” is curated by Bajac, Senior Curator Roxana Marcoci, and Assistant Curator Lucy Gallun.

When the exhibition opens, MoMA will launch an online platform to show the archive of the New Photography exhibitions of the past 30 years.

Related Articles
MoMA’s New Chief Photo Curator Turns to Studio Photography for First Show

June 29th, 2015

Magnum Photos Names 6 New Nominees

Fallowed tomato fields near the town of Corcoran in California's Central Valley, photographed for The New Yorker. © Matt Black

Fallowed tomato fields near the town of Corcoran in California’s Central Valley, photographed for The New Yorker. © Matt Black

 

Matt Black, Carolyn Drake, Richard Mosse, Newsha Tavakolian, Lorenzo Meloni and Max Pinckers have been named nominees of Magnum Photos. The cooperative agency also voted to make Michael Christopher Brown, who was named a Magnum nominee  in 2013, an associate of the agency. Magnum Photos announced the news yesterday at the conclusion of its annual general meeting in Paris.

Matt Black, who is based in California, has covered the state’s Central Valley for more than 15 years. He is currently working on a project, “The Geography of Poverty,” for MSNBC.

Carolyn Drake, an American, has covered Central Asia extensively. She has published two books, Two Rivers and Wild Pigeon; the latter was made in collaboration with a community of Uyghurs in western China. A winner of a Fulbright fellowship and awards from World Press and POYi, she was chosen for PDN‘s 30 in 2006.

Richard Mosse, who was born in Ireland and is based in New York City, was the winner of the 2014 Deutsche Borse Photography Prize in 2014 for “The Enclave,” a multi-screen installation of his work from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Newsha Tavakolian, who is based in Tehran, won the 2014 Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award.

Lorenzo Meloni, who is Italian, has covered Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Libya for The Telegraph, Figaro, and other publications.

Max Pinckers is based in Brussels. His books include Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty and The Fourth Wall, about moviemaking and movie fans in Mumbai.

Related Articles
Richard Mosse Wins $50K Deutsche Borse Prize

PDN Video Pick: Ed Kashi and Matt Black for The New Yorker

Matt Black and Ed Kashi Bring California’s Dried Out Central Valley to The New Yorker

The 50,000 Euro Controversy over Artistic Freedom and the Carmignac Gestion Prize

June 25th, 2015

It’s in the Details: Vanessa Joy’s Metal-Printed Wedding Photos

Sponsored by Black River Imaging

Over the course of her career, photographer Vanessa Joy has established thoughtful and elegant practices to capture her clients’ engagement sessions and weddings, taking special care to document the details the couple has worked hard to bring to fruition for their special day. From flowers to tablescapes, Joy preserves the ephemeral details of each wedding, and has found that it’s often these types of images her couples fall in love with. Joy has also had her wedding-detail photos featured on popular blogs such as Style Me Pretty and Off Beat Bride.

VJP_4375-1

Images from two weddings photographed by Joy, including detail shots from a rustic wedding by couple Caitlyn and Gene. Printed on 8 x 8-inch Black River Imaging Metal Prints.

In September 2014, two of Joy’s clients, Caitlyn and Gene, were married in an elegant and rustic wedding in Monmouth Hills, New Jersey. The event is one of Joy’s recent favorites due to the many elements she had to work with, such as the bride’s pearl jewelry, the couple’s wedding invitation and a vintage photograph of a family wedding. She says, “I try to look for things that will give a little bit more character than just a pair of shoes. Sometimes that’s all I have, but if I can, I will grab certain elements to pull into them in.” Joy also considers the final color palette of the photographs in the album and wall art her clients will be receiving. “I try to keep a fairly consistent look to all of my pictures, and that of course includes the details, too. One of the things I like to do when I first arrive is check what color the bridesmaids’ dresses are and if somehow I can pull in a color, the same color or a similar color, then I know the pictures are going to look good in the album,” she says.

VJP_4360-1

8 x 8-inch Metal Prints of couple Gina and Mike.

Having a vision from the beginning is important to Joy, and she encourages her clients to consider final artwork, and how it will fit their homes. Working frequently in the New York metropolitan area, she has a range of clients with varied tastes. She shoots both sleek and rustic weddings and is careful to inquire about her clients’ homes and how her work will best fit their existing décor. “I’m always trying to get clients to consider things that they’d put up on their wall or put around their home as more art pieces, not just staple ‘Hey this is my wedding’ photos,” she says. “When they’re decorating parts of their house like side tables, detail pictures are a lot of fun. It’s a way to have wedding photos around [that aren’t all of the] bride in a wedding dress—it can be other little details that are more subtle and artful.”

VJP_4348-1  VJP_4349-1

For these photographs, Joy works with Black River Imaging and provides the company’s Metal Prints. “My clients like having something unique and something that they can show off to their friends. Metal Prints aren’t something that my clients can typically find anywhere else so they love decorating their homes with them,” she says. Joy especially likes the 8 x 8-inch format (which, she points out, is also a great scale when couples are ordering Metal Prints as gifts) and appreciates Black River Imaging’s different metal-printing options. “[There’s] vibrant metal that is super chic and stylish and is perfect for a New York wedding, but then I have other clients who have barn weddings,” she says. “Those clients that have a little bit more subdued taste that want maybe a little bit more vintage look, they love the metallic fade with a matte finish.” The fade effect, she says, lets some of the metal texture show for a “really pretty” effect. No matter what their personal style and printing preferences are, Joy always has a unified vision for her brides and grooms. She says: “My goal is to provide my couples with romantically whimsical wedding photos that are timeless and tell their love story.”

Visit Black River Imaging for more information on Metal Prints.

June 24th, 2015

Uber for Drones: Fly4Me Connects Pilots with Clients

A photo posted by fly4.me (@fly4.me) on

For all the popularity of drones, they’re far from a mass market product. Many users, even many photographers, may be leery of sending a flying robot into the air, lest it wind up on the White House lawn or on someone’s face.

That’s where Fly4Me comes in. It’s a new service that promises to link trained drone operators with paying clients–kind of like Uber for drones.

Drone owners use Fly4Me to create personalized profiles and bid on drone-related job offers, including aerial mapping, disaster surveillance but also photography and videography. Operators bring their own drone and get to keep 80 percent of any money earned. Any drone owner that wants to create a profile on Fly4Me has to undergo a safety certification process by the company first.

Fly4Me’s co-founder Adam Kersnoski told PDN that the company had obtained its 333 exemption from the FAA allowing commercial drone operations and that drone pilots using the service would be covered under that exemption.

The current exemption restricts the service to only using drone operators that fly a DJI Phantom 2, however Kersnoski told us the company’s lawyers were “already in the process of modifying [the FAA exemption] to exclude this restriction and add additional platforms.”

untitled-13

Fly4Me is based in Boston and is signing up drone operators throughout the country.

The company is planning to offer some interesting technology to customers who hire operators through the platform, including the ability to view flight results uploaded by the pilot, live-streaming from a drone’s camera, private communication between pilot and customer during flight and the ability for customers to select flight locations by pointing a pin on Google Maps.

(Lead image from left to right: Adam Kersnowski, co-founder; David Amatuni, designer; Dmitry Sharshunskiy, co-founder; Karina Dodor, attorney.)