June 3rd, 2014

PDN Video Pick: A Year-Long Documentary Project for Stella Artois

Dustin Cohen’s “Made in Brooklyn” project is a character-driven video series about Brooklyn artisans, and after it went viral last year, Cohen started landing assignments. One was a year-long project for beer brand Stella Artois that is just coming to fruition in the form of a 26-minute documentary called “The Chalice Symphony.” It is about the design and construction of four one-of a kind instruments that use Stella Artois chalices to make musical sounds in different ways. At the center of the story is artist/engineer Andy Cavatorta, the instrument builder, and rock band Cold War Kids, which composed a symphony for performance on Cavatorta’s beer chalice creations.

The full video will be released during the next few weeks, but in the meantime, Cohen and Stella Artois have released a series of short, stand-alone excerpts, including the one shown here.

Cohen told us about the project in a brief interview:

PDN: What was the assignment from Stella Artois and the ad agency?
Dustin Cohen: It was to document Andy Cavatorta and his team building four instruments. It’s a process video, but character driven, from inception to completion of the instruments.

PDN: Did you storyboard it in any way at the outset?
DC: It’s documentary in nature, but knowing we had many months of filming in front of us, we had a brief outline of points we wanted to hit–the process of Andy making these instruments, the problem solving, working with his team, the band composing the song–but we didn’t draw out storyboard per se.

PDN: Did you expect it to take a year?
DC: It took longer to complete them than we had planned. There were a lot of elements that had to come together, and it went at its own pace.

PDN: Was your approach to shooting any different from the Made in Brooklyn videos?
DC: Visually speaking, it’s not different. But the scope of this was huge, so there were many more people involved–art directors and creative directors from the agency, and people at Stella Artois.

PDN: That sounds like a lot of bosses. Was that a problem?
DC: I wouldn’t call it a problem. For Made in Brooklyn, I had only myself to answer to. But when you sign up for a project like this, and money is on line, the opinions of other people matter, and some are people with a lot of weight. There were times when it was harder than others, but I’m super proud of the documentary we made.

PDN: What kind of crew did you have? Were you the DP as well as the director?
DC: It depended on the day, but most days, the crew was four or five people: two cameras, a sound person and a DIT (data tech/producer). I directed all the videos, and I grabbed a camera and shot a good amount of it. On a few days, the crew was triple that, when we needed beauty shots or had really important interviews where we needed lighting. We had three cameras, an art department, and grips.

PDN: What advice would you give someone else about to take on a big project like this?
DC: Surround yourself with people that care–production company and crew. There are so many things that change, and you’re going to want to put in so many more things than the budget allows. Having a project we were pumped on made the extra days and hours totally worth it. You’re going to work a lot harder and longer than you think. Be ready, be excited, and surround yourself with other people who are willing to do the same.

Related:
Personal Work That Lands Assignments: Dustin Cohen’s Made in Brooklyn Project (for PDN subscribers)

May 27th, 2014

Photojournalist and Translator Killed in Eastern Ukraine; 1 Photographer Injured in Mortar Attack

Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, and his Russian interpreter, Andrei Mironov, were killed May 25 by mortar fire near Slavyansk in the Eastern Ukraine, the Italian foreign ministry reported.

They had been covering fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces in the region. William Roguelon, a French photojournalist who was  traveling with Rocchelli and Mironov, told news organizations that they came under mortar fire and had taken shelter in a ditch when they were hit. Roguelon is now recovering from injuries sustained in the attack.

Rocchelli, 30, had previously covered stories in the Caucuses, Afghanistan, India, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, the NPPA reports. This year, he covered the protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square. In 2008, Rochelli cofounded the photo collective Cesura. He is survived by his girlfriend and their son, age 3.

Mironov, 60, was a human rights activist who had been imprisoned as a dissident during the Soviet regime.

May 21st, 2014

Advice From the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students

Classes in photography can be a leg up to landing a job as an assistant or getting started in the photography business, but real-world experience often teaches practical lessons not taught in photo schools. What are the important lessons photographers didn’t learn in school, that photographers found themselves scrambling to make up after college?  We recently rounded up some advice for recent graduates (published on PDNOnline). We also asked photographers David Brandon Geeting, Cody Cloud and Andrew Burkle for their perspectives.

Geeting, a Brooklyn-based editorial photographer, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2011, and worked as a photo assistant and did other jobs before going into business for himself in 2012. Burkle, a food photographer shooting advertising for national brands, graduated from Ohio University in 2009, and worked as a photo assistant in Chicago before opening a studio last year in Cleveland with photographer David Hagen. Cody Cloud shoots fashion in Los Angeles with his partner, Julia Galdo. He earned his MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2005.

Here’s what they told us about the things they wished they’d learned in school, and their advice for new graduates.

What skills do you wish you’d learned while you were in school–but didn’t– that would have helped you most when you got out?

David Brandon Geeting: I wish I would have taken more studio classes and learned more lighting techniques. I shoot a lot of work in the studio now, and everything I do is totally self-taught. When I was in school, I just walked around with a 35mm point-and-shoot camera and made C-prints of off-kilter moments and funny trash on the street. I had no plans of shooting commercially – I thought I would make a living as an artist. I thought I’d be having solo exhibitions and publishing weird books. That is still the goal, but in the meantime I am doing the best I can to survive with self-taught techniques that I could have learned before graduating.

Andrew Burkle: I really wish I had gotten more input on how to price myself and bid on jobs. The problem was that we learned invoicing but not bidding, [which] is a hard skill to teach and standardize. In the beginning I was probably under bidding and getting work, but vastly under valuing myself as well as inadvertently lowering the standard cost for other bidding photographers.  I think that is a common young photographers mistake though. It is an important step to start pricing yourself correctly.  Even if that means losing out on some work.  If you know your work has value, you have to stick to your price.

Cody Cloud: I wish we would have learned more technical lighting and more Photoshop. Where I went to school they didn’t emphasize the technical side, and coming out of school, my [Photoshop] skills weren’t up to par for jumping into the real world. I assisted a long time. That’s how I learned to light. Julia [Galdo] does the Photoshop so the partnership works out good.

What advice do you wish you had gotten (or heeded) before you graduated?

Geeting: The best piece of advice I got in school was from Joseph Maida, my junior seminar teacher. The thing he said that stuck with me was, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” which is actually a Robert Frost quote, but it applies so well to photography. I didn’t pay much attention to these words at that time – I was too busy being a self-righteous college kid – but they were always in the back of my mind. Today, I might have a pre-conceived idea before I start shooting, and even if that idea is illustrated exactly as I had imagined in my mind, there’s a good chance that it won’t be very interesting to look at. If you are not surprised by what you are shooting as you are shooting it, no one else will be. Being able to adapt is so important. Leaving room for change and happy accidents is something I have built my practice on.

Burkle: I learned this eventually on my own: Very few [people], if any, will appreciate you. You have to work hard, work often and keep your head up. You will most likely be poor for a while. However, once you’ve proven to people that you are hard working, persistent, talented and easy to work with, the world will start to take notice.  This process can take a few months or even a few years.  Unfortunately, your degree in photography is for your own peace of mind.  The photo world estimates your worth in real-world experience.

What professional advice do you have for students who are just graduating?

Geeting: GET A BLOG. And update it every day. Make something every day. If you really love what you’re doing, it shouldn’t be a chore. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money on a leather portfolio or promo cards or whatever people think will get them noticed. Just make the work. And then get up the next day and make it again. If you are putting in the work, good things will happen to you. That’s just how the world works – the energy you exert will come back to return the favor. I really believe that.

Burkle: Keep on top of your technology–cameras, capture software, photoshop, new equipment and techniques, archiving software, etc.–and shoot as much as possible for yourself.  The latter seems obvious, but I fell victim to this early after graduating. When you start working 60 hour weeks for someone else and you don’t have much access to studio time, shooting for yourself becomes a struggle  very quickly.  FInd the time.  Work on weekends.  No one will hire you for the portfolio you “want” to create.  Clients hire photographers, not assistant with potential.

Cloud: I would tell students to work on talking about their work. In every meeting, you have to pitch your ideas. Clients need to hear exactly what you’re going to do and the reason for it. You have to articulate it so they can get it. That’s going to help you get jobs.

Related stories:
So You’ve Just Graduated With a Photography Degree. Now What?
What I  Didn’t Learn in Art School: Life Lessons from 10 Photographers (for PDN subscribers)
Creative Pitches That Land Advertising Clients
The Money Issue: Estimating 2.0: Bidding on an All-Media Library Shoot (for PDN subscribers)

May 21st, 2014

German Photographer Michael Schmidt Awarded $112,500 Prix Pictet

From "Lebensmittel," Michael Schmidt's series on food production and consumption.

From “Lebensmittel,” Michael Schmidt’s series on food production and consumption.

Michael Schmidt was awarded the fifth Prix Pictet, a photography prize worth $112,500, in a ceremony this evening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The award is sponsored by Swiss wealth managers the Pictet Group.

Schmidt was recognized for his long-term project “Lebensmittel,” translated as “food stuff,” which he made between 2006 and 2010. Sir David King, the jury chair, called Schmidt’s project “an epic and hugely topical investigation into the ways in which we feed ourselves,” according to a press release issued by the Prix Pictet organization. The Prix Pictet honors photographers whose work examines critical social and environmental issues, and the theme for this iteration of the prize was “Consumption.”

The shortlisted photographers included Adam Bartos (United States), Motoyuki Daifu (Japan), Rineke Dijkstra (The Netherlands), Hong Hao (China), Mishka Henner (Belgium), Juan Fernando Herrán (Colombia), Boris Mikhailov (Ukraine), Abraham Oghobase (Nigeria), Michael Schmidt (Germany), Allan Sekula (United States) and Laurie Simmons (United States).

Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general and honorary president of Prix Pictet, praised the shortlisted photographers for their “powerful images that ought to persuade governments, businesses—and each of us as individual consumers—of the need for a fundamental rethink of the principles on which present-day affluence is founded. The issue of unsustainable consumption, and in particular food and nutrition security, is not simply at the forefront of the global political stage, it is now firmly on the personal agenda of each and every one of us.”

Previous winners include Benoît Aquin, Nadav Kander, Mitch Epstein and Luc Delahaye.

The jury for the fifth Prix Pictet included: Sir King, chairman, UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change (SRCC); Peter Aspden, arts writer, Financial Times; Luc Delahaye, photographer; Fumio Nanjo, director, Mori Art Museum; Loa Haagen Pictet, art consultant & curator; Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum; Wang Shu, architect; Elisabeth Sussman, curator of photography, Whitney Museum of American Art.

An exhibition of the work of the shortlisted photographers opens tomorrow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it will show through June 14, 2014.

May 20th, 2014

Open Society, Smith Memorial Fund, Burn Magazine, Boulat Association Calling for Grant Applications

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund,  Open Society Foundations, Association Pierre et Alexandra Boulat, and Burn Magazine are all soliciting applications for major photojournalism grants. Deadlines are fast approaching.

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund has issued its last call for entries for its $30,000 Grant in Humanistic Photography. There is a $50 application fee, and the deadline for entries is May 31.

The grant is awarded annually to a photographer whose past work and proposed project follows the documentary tradition of legendary photojournalist W. Eugene Smith. Recent winners include Robin Hammond, Peter van Agtmael, and Krisanne Johnson.

The W. Eugene Smith Memorial fund is also calling for entries for the $5,000 Howard Chapnick Grant, which is awarded for education, research, or special projects undertaken in support of the field of photojournalism. Applications for that grant are due July 15, and there is no application fee. See smithfund.org for full details.

The Association Pierre et Alexandra Boulat, based in Paris, has put out a call for entries for the 8,000 euro (about $11,000) Pierre & Alexandra Boulat Grant for photojournalism. The grant is given “in order to allow the winner to produce a story that has never been told but that the photographer cannot find support for within the media,” the association says on its web site. Past winners include Arnau Bach, Maciek Nabrdalik, and Lizzie Saadin.

Applications are due by June 7. There is no application fee. See the association’s web site for an application and guidelines.

The Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project is soliciting proposals for its 2014 Audience Engagement Grant program. The grants, in varying amounts, are designed to help documentary photographers and photo-based artists use their work to affect change by engaging with NGO partners to reach targeted audiences. The deadline for applications is July 8, 2014.

For the first time, OSF is awarding Audience Engagement Grants for training workshops, to help applicants develop their projects, as well as grants for project implementation. See the OSF web site for additional details and application guidelines.

Burn Magazine has announced a call for entries for its $10,000 Emerging Photographer Fund grant. There is a $25 application fee, and the deadline for entries is July 31. The grant, initiated in 2008 by Burn magazine founder David Alan Harvey, is intended to support the continuation of the winners’ personal projects. Past winners have included Diana Markosian, Matt Lutton, and Davide Monteleone. More information is available on the Burn magazine web site.

Related:

Open Society Announces 2013 Audience Engagement Grant Winners
Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Joseph Rodriguez on the Audience Engagement Grant (PDN subscription required)
Robin Hammond Wins $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Fund Grant

May 20th, 2014

Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright to Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

Wal-mart Stores Inc. and the Walton family, which owns the company, have filed suit to force the widow of an Arkansas portrait photographer to hand over all prints, negatives and proofs of Walton family members made between 1950 and 1994, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and the Arkansas Times reports. The widow, who reportedly had refused an offer of $2,000 for the pictures, has counter-sued, claiming she owns the copyright.

The Walton family is claiming the photographs belong to them because Bob’s Studio of Photography in Fayetteville made the portraits under the Walton family’s “supervision.” The Walton family says in its lawsuit that the portrait studio stored the photographs as a courtesy, according to the PPA and Arkansas Times reports. More than 200 photographs are in dispute, the reports say.

David Huff and his father, Robert A. Huff, owned Bob’s Studio of Photography. Both are now deceased.

The defendant in the case is Helen B. M. Huff, widow of David Huff. She is countersuing on the grounds that she owns copyright to the photographs because her late husband and his father shot the photographs as private contractors, using their own equipment. She is seeking an injunction against the Walton family and Wal-mart to force them to stop using the photographs without her permission.

A court date is set for July 7.

May 15th, 2014

Sony Adds RX100 III, the Sequel to Our Favorite Pocket Camera of 2013

Sony just launched the pocket-friendly but powerful RX100 III, which is the follow-up to our favorite pocket camera of 2013. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill for a camera that’s just an 1.5-inch thick and weighs around 10 ounces.

Sony-RX100-III_Right-1200
The Sony RX100 III is not an overhaul of RX100 Il — thankfully, since that was a very well designed little camera — and even uses the same 20.1-megapixel 1.0-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor as its predecessor. It also has about the same dimensions as the previous model — 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches — though might be slightly thicker.

Sony-RX100-III_Rear-EVF-1200
The new Sony RX100 III does, however, add some significant new features — particularly relating to the lens — including the following highlights:

Read the rest of this entry »

May 14th, 2014

Kidnapped, Beaten, and Shot in Syria, Photographer and Writer Manage to Escape

Photographer Jack Hill and reporter Anthony Lloyd of The Times of London escaped to Turkey after they were kidnapped, beaten and shot by a rebel gang in Syria, the newspaper has reported.

The two journalists had been in Aleppo accompanied by bodyguards, and were returning to Turkey when their car was forced off the road and they were taken hostage by about seven men.

Hill was forced into the trunk of a car, and “savagely beaten” when he tried to escape, The Times reported. Lloyd was held in the back seat of the car, and was shot twice in the leg during the ordeal.

The two journalists eventually fled to safety in Turkey, although details about how they escaped were not immediately available.

Related:
Spanish Journalists Freed After 194 Days in Captivity in Syria
Freelance Photographer Killed in Syria

May 13th, 2014

Big Guns: Nikon Launches 400mm F/2.8 FL ED VR Super Telephoto Lens and 1.4x Teleconverter

Nikon unleashed a new super telephoto lens and tele extender this morning: the AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens and 1.4x magnifying AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III. Sports photographers and wildlife shooters should find a lot to like here; the Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 features improved autofocus, exposure accuracy and speed, while the teleconverter TC-14E III multiplies the focal length of Nikon lenses by 1.4x with reportedly only a one-stop loss of exposure.

Nikon-AFS_400E_FL_ED_VR_a
Unfortunately for those photographers looking to get their hands on these big guns they don’t go on sale until August 2014 and they won’t be cheap. The the AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens will sell for $12,000, while the AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III will retail for $500.

Read more of this story here.

May 13th, 2014

Photojournalist Camille Lepage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic

In her most recent post on Instagram on May 6, slain photojournalist Camille Lepage shared a photograph of people she was traveling with and details about her location.

In her most recent post on Instagram on May 6, slain photojournalist Camille Lepage shared a photograph of anti balaka [Christian militia] she was traveling with and details about her location.

Camille Lepage, a 26-year-old French photojournalist, has been killed in the Central African Republic, say reports from the Associated Press and Reuters.

According to the Reuters report, citing a statement released today by French President Francois Hollande, Lepage’s body was found when French-affiliated soldiers stopped “a car driven by anti-balaka [Christian militia] groups, in the Bouar region.”

The Associated Press report, citing Lepage’s colleagues, says the photojournalist was caught in fighting “while traveling in a village about 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Bouar, near the country’s border with Cameroon.”

Lapage, who is from Angers, France, last posted on her social media accounts on May 6. In the caption to a photograph posted to her Instagram she wrote: “Travelling with the Anti Balaka to Amada Gaza, about 120km from Berberati, we left at 3.30am to avoid the Misca checkpoints and it took us 8 hours by motorbike as there is [sic] no proper roads to reach the village. In the region of Amada Gaza, 150 people were killed by the Seleka between March and now. Another attack took place on Sunday killing 6 people, the anti balaka Colonel Rock decides to send his elements there to patrol around and take people who fled to the bush back to their homes safely.”

In addition to covering Central African Republic, LePage had also photographed stories in South Sudan, and had been published in The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian and Le Monde among other publications. Lepage had also worked with Medecines Sans Frontiers, Amnesty International, the World Food Program, and other non-governmental organizations.

In their statement, the French President’s office called Lepage’s death a “murder,” saying, “Everything will be done to uncover the circumstances of this assassination and to track down who murdered our compatriot.”