October 27th, 2010

Panos Licenses Photos Shot Inside the Chile Mine (Update)

Panos Pictures, the UK-based photo agency, has posted images that miner Edison Pena took while he was trapped underground in the San Jose mine in Chile for  69 days. His photos show the refuge area where he and the other miners slept on cots and bed rolls, and the pile of fallen stone that cut off their escape. Pena also took several self portraits as he  exercised in the mine’s tunnels by jogging, lifting heavy bars and trying to pull machinery as he ran.  The story can be seen on the Panos.co.uk web site.

In text accompanying the photos, Panos states that the agency is acting as Pena’s agent.  No explanation is given of whether the sale of the photos breaks the agreement the miners made to share all proceeds from deals with the media. The text says that photographer Adam Patterson who, with a writer, had been working on a story about Pena’s girlfriend, lowered a camera to Pena in the mine.  The text doesn’t explain how he lit his shots in the dark tunnels.

Panos has packaged Pena’s images with photos that Patterson took  of Pena’s girlfriend and her home during the weeks she was awaiting his rescue.

( * Update: Oct. 28:  David Arnott of Panos Pictures got in touch with PDN with  information about the photos.)

Arnott tells PDN that Panos has made “a number of exclusive deals with news magazines across Europe, including Paris Match and Stern.”  The first publication rights in the US are still being negotiated, and a number of potential clients are involved, he says.

As to the agreement made between the miners, Arnott said it’s up to Pena what he does with the money earned from image licensing. “All I can say is that we won’t be getting involved in that decision.”