June 18th, 2014

NY Times Highlights Instagrammer Working For Met, Other Institutions, For Free

There was an article in the Art & Design section of the New York Times yesterday highlighting the social media photography that an Instagrammer, Dave Krugman, is doing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library and other cultural institutions in exchange for special access.

The article is full of language that suggests it’s Mr. Krugman’s great privilege to work for these institutions for free. “The Metropolitan Museum, for instance, allowed Mr. Krugman and his band of Instagram stars into its halls outside of normal business hours,” the author writes. She also quotes Krugman’s own post thanking the Met for the “opportunity.”

These are institutions with resources to pay for the social media communications work they do. Krugman isn’t a photographer by trade, he’s a retoucher, the article says. But he’s allowing these institutions to pay what the market will bear for this work: zero.

It would be interesting to know what the photographers and photo editors on the New York Times‘s staff think of this article devaluing the work of photographers.

“With his growing reputation, Mr. Krugman has begun thinking about charging money for his Instagram services,” the article concludes. Will these venerable and wealthy institutions pay, though, or will they just hire the next person with a big Instagram following who doesn’t know enough about the business of advertising and communications to charge for his or her work?

March 24th, 2014

World Press Photo Multimedia 2014 Honors New York Times, National Film Board of Canada, Marco Casino

HighriseThe National Film Board of Canada and The New York Times share first prize for Interactive Documentary in the World Press Photo 2014 Multimedia contest for their collaborative multimedia piece, “A Short History of the Highrise.” The World Press Multimedia awards, now in their fourth year, honor documentary work in three categories: interactive documentaries, short and long features. The winners were announced this morning in Amsterdam.

“A Short History of the Highrise” tells the story of vertical living and the construction of skyscrapers through four short films, photos, text and microgames.

First prize for best short feature was awarded to “Staff Rider,” a video about kids in South Africa who “surf” atop trains. Photographer Marco Casino recorded photos, video and sound for the story. First prize for long feature went to “Witnessing Gezi,” directed by photojournalist Emin Ozmen and Baris Koca, who documented the protests against the development of Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park and civil resistance in Turkey.

The first place winner in each category will be awarded a cash award of 1,500 euros.

The full list of winners, and credits for editing, sound design and more, can be found at www.worldpressphoto.org/2014-multimedia-contest/winners-list.

The winners were selected from 373 entrants. The chair of the jury, Jassim Ahmad, global head of multimedia innovation at Reuters, said in a statement, “Interactive teams are employing a variety of visual tools and techniques. We looked for examples that are designed for the medium to explain more and bring you closer.” He also noted, “We agreed innovation could not be at the expense of clarity. Communication is the essence of journalism.”

Other jury members were Gabriel Dance, interactive editor, Guardian US; Liza Faktor, co-founder of Screen; photographer Ed Kashi of the VII Photo Agency; Marianne Lévy-Leblond, head of web productions and transmedia projects at Arte France; Grant Scott, senior lecturer on photography at the University of Gloucestershire and founder and editor Unitednationsofphotography.com; and photographer Luis Weinstein. Alan Stoga, president of Zemi Communications, was the jury secretary.

Related articles
Sinclair, Dimmock Win World Press Multimedia Contest

Jurying the World Press Photo Multimedia Contest (for PDN Subscribers)

The Next Generation of Online Storytelling: Bear 71 (by National Film Board of Canada)

February 12th, 2014

Does The NY Times’ Sochi Photo “Firehose” Do Photogs a Disservice?

Today The New York Times launched a live stream of images from Sochi, which they’re dubbing a “Firehose.” It funnels images by Times photographers and from the paper’s wire service feeds, and evidently there will be roughly 14,000 images per day coming through the, ahem, hose.

The images are running without captions. And while there are many great photographs, there are many others that leave us to guess what’s happening in the image, and which are pretty ho-hum without context (see: athlete celebrating win, for something, who knows what?)

There are good things about the site. It has a simple design and big photos. It’s giving a lot of images that wouldn’t make it into media outlets a run in a central place. And the site is presented by United Airlines, so they aren’t just giving this away. People who love sports pictures and can’t get enough of them can watch them stream by, and so what if there are no captions? Most of them you can figure out. And it’s not as if this replaces galleries of edited and captioned pictures.

But does this diminish not only the perceived value of the images, but also the editorial selection and captioning process at a time when the public perception of photography is that it’s so abundant it’s worth very little? Maybe. The name “Firehose” seems like self-parody, an admission that the flow of images has devalued photography to the point that the Times has decided to just throw up their hands and open the valve.

Perhaps we’re making too much of this? Maybe we should sit back and let the stream wash over us? What you do you think, dear reader?

February 21st, 2013

Is It More Dangerous than Ever to Be a Female War Reporter?

In an interview with the Atlantic, author and former Reuters correspondent Anne Sebba makes several points about women war reporters that current female conflict journalists find insulting.

Sebba, who is the author of a history of women reporters called Battling for News, told the Atlantic’s Emily Chertoff: “A lot of these conflicts are now in Muslim countries, who see Western women wearing provocative—that’s their word, not mine—provocative clothes, and therefore, they feel, the West has to be taught a lesson, that they’re fair targets, fair game.”

Sebba points out that more women are graduating from media studies programs and argues that editors “are prepared to exploit” young women because “you see a gorgeous woman on your screens in a flak jacket, and it’s almost like entertainment.”

In particular Sebba singles out young freelancers who don’t have the training and backing of a major news organization. “These young kids, who are barely out of media college, try and be freelance journalists, and so they often go off on their own and get a story. Those are the danger areas,” Sebba says.

In a response to the article posted on her Facebook page, Scout Tufankjian, a photojournalist who has worked in Egypt and Gaza, among other conflict zones, wrote that she “found lot of the assumptions within [the interview] to be pretty insulting. Especially the assumption that ignorance and inexperience is a gender issue, such as [quoting Sebba] ‘More women than men graduate in media studies. They don’t know how to find a fixer; they don’t know about weaponry; they don’t know where is safe, where is not safe—they just want to prove themselves.’”

Photojournalist Nicole Tung, who has worked in Syria, Libya and Egypt, agrees with Tufankjian. “It seems like Anne Sebba hasn’t been out in a conflict zone for some time now,” Tung told PDN via email. “I feel incredibly insulted, as do a number of other female journalists who’ve voiced their concerns over social media networks…. I have come across both men and women who started out as inexperienced as I was. In Syria in particular, there are many rookies heading in without any conflict experience and they are predominantly (I would say 80 percent) males going in, emailing me with questions about how to do this or that, how to find the right people, etc.”

“I think she also fails to mention that women weren’t the only gender targeted in attacks in [Egypt's] Tahrir Square,” Tung points out. “Men were, too, and continue to be targets until today. Few people come out and talk about that. Why? It’s not only because both women and men are risking losing an assignment, but because sometimes we personally feel we can overlook some incidents and keep on moving, working. It is about the story we’re covering and not about us. That’s the mentality a lot of us go in with, and turning the focus on us is something we try to avoid until it becomes something we deem necessary. I think social media is a big part of why we hear more about attacks on the press and in particular, women, these days.”

Sebba also argues that having children impacts female journalists more than male journalists. “I think a woman has carried a baby for nine months, and she worries more about that,” Sebba tells the Atlantic.

After war photographer Lynsey Addario was captured along with three male journalists, Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell and Tyler Hicks, while on assignment for the New York Times in Libya in 2011, she said she felt that being groped by her captors was no worse than being hit in the head like her male counterparts were. (The Libyan driver for the Times journalists was killed by the captors.)

In an interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists, senior editor Lauren Wolfe asked Addario what she thought when one of her colleagues, Tyler Hicks, said during a panel discussion that it was a worse experience for Addario.

“Well, that’s his perception,” Addario responded. “Who can qualify what’s worse? Who has the right to say what’s worse? For me, when I was getting groped, I was listening to them—and I could only listen because I was blindfolded—I was listening to them get smashed on the head and I can hear them scream, like, grunting, and to me that was so painful…. It was horrible for all of us. I don’t understand why this is so much worse for me? Is it because I’m a woman? I don’t know who has the answer to that question.”

“I definitely think that more training needs to take into account female-specific issues,” Tufankjian wrote in her Facebook post, “but at the end of the day, of the 70 journalists killed last year, 3 were women and 67 were men. Has anyone heard any discussion about using these numbers to keep men out of dangerous situations? Maybe it’s just more dangerous than ever to be a war reporter.”

January 28th, 2013

Defamation Lawsuit Against Lauren Greenfield Thrown Out of Federal Court

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the lawsuit brought against photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield by one of the subjects of her award-winning documentary “The Queen of Versailles” has been thrown out by a federal judge in Orlando. The parties have been ordered to seek arbitration.

Greenfield and the Sundance Institute, which runs the Sundance Film Festival, were sued for defamation by timeshare developer David A. Siegel, whose family is the subject of Greenfield’s documentary. “The Queen of Versailles” tells the story of the billionaire Siegels as they attempt to build the biggest house in America, only to struggle as the economic downturn threatens their business and their 90,000-square-foot dream home.

The content of the film was not at issue; the lawsuit was over the press release for the film. In his lawsuit, Siegel claimed that the original press release for the Sundance Film Festival premiere of the film made three false and defamatory statements: That “[the Siegel's] timeshare empire collapses”; that “[the Siegel's] house is foreclosed”; and that the film tells a “rags-to-riches-to-rags story.”

Lawyers for Siegel objected to the wording of the press release. It was amended and publications that covered the news, including The New York Times, were contacted to correct the information. The suit alleged, however, that the damage to Siegel’s reputation, and that of his timeshare business, Westgate Resorts, LTD. had been done because the original description had already spread via the internet, appearing on more than 12,000 Web sites, according to the complaint.

In her decision, which was filed on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Anne Conway noted that Siegel’s testimony before the court was “inconsistent and incredible.”

Related: Greenfield Wins Sundance Director Prize
Lauren Greenfield Sued For Defamation By Documentary Subject

February 17th, 2012

“Lost” Robert Frank Photos Found in NY Times Archive

A series of photographs Robert Frank made in 1958 on commission for The New York Times, which were once thought to have been thrown out, have been discovered by the family of Louis Silverstein, a longtime art director at the Times. The photographs are featured today on the Times‘ Lens blog.

A year before he published his groundbreaking book The Americans, Frank was hired to create the photographs by Silverstein, who headed the Times’ promotions department at the time. The images were used for a promotional book distributed to Times advertisers.

The images depict New Yorkers, many of them carrying or reading copies of the Times, going about their business on the streets, in taxis, at the airport, and at notable locations such as Grand Central Station and the Statue of Liberty.

Silverstein’s wife, Helen, recently discovered the prints with the help of Jeff Roth, a Times librarian. The prints remain with the Silverstein family. Some of the photographs were not published at that the time in the promotional book, and have not previously been seen.

A previous version of this blog post stated incorrectly that the photographs had been rediscovered in the Times’ archive.

November 3rd, 2011

Long After Divorce, Groom Sues to Have Wedding Photos Recreated

When a bride and groom are unhappy with their wedding photos, they sometimes demand a refund. Former groom Todd J. Remis is currently suing H&H Photographers, alleging breach of contract because the photographers missed the last 15 minutes of the ceremony and took lousy photos. Remis takes his claim even further: He has also demanded that the studio pay him $48,000 to fly the wedding party back to New York and recreate the entire ceremony and reception.  Here’s the sad part of the case, reported with fitting poignancy in today’s New York Times: The wedding took place in 2003. Remis and his wife separated in 2008, and divorced last year. Her whereabouts are unknown.

A judge in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan is letting Remis’s claim of breach of contract proceed. But in her opinion, she noted a sad truth that many wedding photographers already know: Sometimes the wedding photos mean more to the couple than the marriage itself.

Quoting the Barbara Streisand hit “The Way We Were,” Judge Doris Ling-Cohan writes, “This is a case in which it appears that the ‘misty watercolor memories’ and the ‘scattered pictures of the smiles … left behind’ at the wedding were more important than the real thing.”

Veteran New York Times reporter Joseph Berger explores many angles in the case, and interviews the founder of H&H Photographers, Curt Fried, an émigré from Nazi-occupied Vienna who opened the business 65 years ago.

But our real concern is Remis.  We hope his friends have told him: It’s time to move on.

We pity the photographer he hires to shoot his Match.com portrait.

May 6th, 2011

Silva and Marinovich: “I have never had a death wish”

If you’ve read  “The Inner Lives of War Photographers,” the article Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, has written about his visit to photographer Joao Silva at Walter Reade Hospital, you’ll be interested to read the full transcript of Keller’s interview with Silva and his friend, photographer Greg Marinovich, which is posted on the Lens blog.

It’s a wide ranging discussion covering the ethics of their profession, their families’ feelings about their dangerous work, citizen journalists in war zones, the obligations of clients to the journalists they hire to cover conflict, surviving on a photographers’ pay, and more. It highlights the different perspectives of Marinovich who, after being wounded four times, decided to give up war coverage for his family, and Silva who says, if he weren’t laid up in a hospital bed after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan, he would want to be in Libya now, “no question.”

Their conversation is characterized by the self awareness and candor that makes The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War, co-written by Marinovich and Silva, such a good read.

The interview is too long  and rich to summarize, but here are a few of the passages that got our attention.  For example, here’s Marinovich, pondering the number of photojournalists killed on the job:

Marinovich: I have this great difficulty with this sentimentalization of what happens to journalists in war zones. We go there voluntarily. We have a privileged position because we can leave when the going gets tough. And often, you have money, which makes a huge difference in your safety. Not that I think that journalists should get hurt and that I don’t have any sympathy.

Later, Keller brings up the public’s fascination with war photographers.

Keller: Let’s go through the mythology. One of the myths is that combat photography gives you a hard shell. Another one is that you’re all cowboys. Another one is that you’re all vultures.
Marinovich: That might be the only thing that might be true.

Silva: For an outsider, it’s easy to perceive us as vultures, when you see us walking through pools of blood and corpses just to get that perfect shot that will esthetically show the situation as best as you can so it can be printable in a newspaper. So yeah, we will be perceived as vultures. But in many ways internally — at least speaking for myself — I know that I’m out of place. I feel it all the time. Give me combat any day. Give me the bang bang. It’s very exciting. And during combat, if one of them gets hurt, it’s fair game. It’s what they do. But the civilian casualties side of it, it’s heartbreaking.

Keller also asks Silva what advice he would give a young photographer who wants to make his or her name by covering conflict.

Silva: I’d want him to understand — if he really wants to follow the combat aspect — that what he is getting himself into potentially could cost him his life and no picture is necessarily worth it. Despite what people have believed, I have never had a death wish. The first prize has always been to come home after an assignment. I’d want to make these things very clear to him before he embarks on his first adventure.

He and Marinovich note, however, that by the time photographers ask for advice on the subject, it’s too late to talk them out of it.

Silva says he has been racked by secondary infections following his operations, including recent surgery for intestinal reconstruction. On a hopeful note, however, his physical therapy and use of prosthetic limbs is “actually going exceptionally well.” Proof of that came today when the Lens blog posted a video of him walking on the artificial limbs without assistance.

January 26th, 2011

Moises Saman Attacked By Police in Tunisia

While on assignment for the New York Times in Tunisia, Magnum photographer Moises Saman was attacked by a group of police officers, a post today on the Times’ Lens blog said.

Saman was photographing police as they beat a protester when the officers turned on him. Saman suffered “mild” injuries, the report said.

Earlier this month, European Press Photo Agency stringer Lucas Dolega was killed in Tunisia during protests that led to the dissolution of the government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Dolega was shot with a tear gas canister at close range and later died of his wounds in a hospital.

Related: Photographer Dies of Injuries In Tunis

Nigerian Photographer Dies in Blast; CPJ Reports 44 Work-Related Journalist Deaths in 2010

November 4th, 2010

Joao Silva Being Treated at Washington Army Hospital

Photo courtesy of Michael Kamber for The New York Times

Joao Silva, the New York Times contract photographer who was severely wounded when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan on October 23, has undergone “repeated operations” at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC , according to his long-time friend and former collaborator Greg Marinovich. Marinovich has reported that the South Africa-based Silva “lost the lower part of both legs” while embedded with a US infantry unit in Kandahar Province.  Silva, accompanied by his wife, Viv, was flown to Walter Reed on October 29 from the US military hospital at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Michele McNally, assistant managing editor for photography at The New York Times and David Furst, the paper’s international picture editor, visited Silva after he arrived at Walter Reed.  “He’s a very strong man,” McNally says of Silva. She tells PDN his spirits were good during the visit. When she offered him a drink of water, Silva said he would prefer a beer.

The fund that Marinovich established to collect donations for Silva and his family through the Web site www.storytaxi.com has so far raised over 4,000 Euros.  (The site is run by Hekaya Digital Storytelling, a non-profit organization.) Marinovich says he is also organizing a fundraising dinner and auction, and adds that Photoshelter has offered a dedicated web site for licensing Silva’s images which will be live soon can now be seen at joaosilva.photoshelter.com

Related Stories:
PDNOnline: Photographer Joao Silva Wounded in Afghanistan

PDNPulse: Fund Established for Injured Photog Joao Silva and Family