October 7th, 2015

Victor Blue Documents Survivors of Kunduz Hospital Bombing

Front page of October 4 New York Times, with photo by Victor J. Blue. © The New York Times

Front page of October 4 New York Times, with photo by Victor J. Blue. © The New York Times

Victor J. Blue‘s image of a young patient who survived the US airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, appeared on the front page of The New York Times on October 4. Blue’s  interview with a man who survived the bombing was also reported in a follow-up story.

Blue happened to be working in Kabul, Afghanistan, on a story about the hospital run by Emergency, an Italian NGO, when patients started arriving from the Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz. In addition to his front-page image of an eight-year-old patient  being comforted by a nurse, he photographed her being carried into the hospital and being treated.

Blue, who has traveled to and photographed in Afghanistan many times in the last six years, had spent two weeks in Kabul documenting work at the Emergency hospital. Admissions at that hospital have increased dramatically since the Taliban has regained ground. Blue says, “The month before I arrived, [Emergency] set a new record for admissions. Every day between 10 and 20 new patients are admitted. The hospital is so busy, they have to set strict admission criteria, only treating penetrating trauma—war wounds from bullets, shells, or mines and IED’s. They take some stabbings too.”

We reached Blue while he was awaiting transport to Kunduz, and asked him about his images and reporting on the MSF hospital casualties.

PDN: Why were you in Kabul, and working at the hospital there?
VB: I came to produce a piece on the flood of civilian casualties this year, and on the hospital in Kabul, Emergency, run by the Italian NGO of the same name, that works to save folks hurt in the fighting here. I made pictures in the hospital on both of my last two trips to Afghanistan. It’s an incredible place. The staff there are really open and dedicated, they work extremely hard to save a lot of lives.

The hospital in Kabul actually draws in patients from a pretty wide catchment area, 7 provinces. Emergency runs a network of First Aid Posts around Afghanistan, 46 in all, which are situated in the districts and usually stabilize the wounded before transfer to Kabul, although plenty of folks come in by private taxi. The majority were from Ghazni province, where the fighting between the Taliban and the government has been really fierce.

PDN: When did you—and the staff of the hospital—learn they’d be seeing patients moved from the MSF hospital in Kunduz?
VB: About four days or so after the Taliban overran Kunduz, a few patients started to trickle in. Then, after the bombing [of the hospital in Kunduz], it was a lot—around 20 came in one day. You could tell they had been treated in the hospital in Kunduz, but were not healed enough to be sent home, and came [to Kabul] to continue treatment. On Saturday afternoon, the day of the US airstrike, the two families I photographed arrived in Kabul via Afghan helicopter from Kunduz. When they came in, I had a nurse ask [for me] if it was OK if I made some pictures, and the parents of both of the children agreed. The Emergency nurses worked to remove their soiled bandages and assess the wounds. The kids were pretty scared and upset, and the nurses were amazing with them—not just calming them, but asking them to be brave while they helped them.

PDN: How did you get in touch with The New York Times, and what did you send?
VB: I talked with the father of one of the children [evacuated from Kunduz], Najibullah, and then asked a staff member at Emergency to translate for me. I interviewed him and realized that his personal account was really powerful, he had survived the bombing with his son in a bunker. The same blast that put his son in the hospital killed two other sons of his.
I am in touch with friends that work as New York Times reporters when I am in Afghanistan, and my friend Joe Goldstein… is currently here reporting. We had already hung out, and were in regular contact about the situation in Kunduz and about another story of his I had been assigned to [cover]. I called him up and told him what I had and he sent a car over to pick me up. I hung out at the Times bureau while the Afghan reporters called Najibullah and asked him some follow-up questions to the interview I brought. Then I filed the pictures. It was a Saturday and International Picture Editor David Furst was off, so my friend Metro Editor Niko Koppel received them and passed them on to International Picture Editor Thom McGuire, who worked hard to get them in the paper. Najibullah’s account of surviving the airstrike ran the next day. It felt good to get his voice into such an important story.

PDN: Did MSF workers from Kunduz go to Kabul, too and what did they tell you?  
VB: The next day at the hospital, more patients from the MSF hospital as well as MSF staff arrived at Emergency. They were still grieving and in shock and made it clear they did not want to take questions from journalists. I continued to do my work, shooting patients and surgeries and following the nurses on their rounds, but gave the MSF folks a wide berth. Of course I wanted to talk to them and hear their stories, but I had to respect their wishes. It was a big moment of solidarity between them and Emergency, two organizations with similar missions but that work very differently, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of that.

July 13th, 2015

Pulitzer Center Announces $1 Million Fund for Multimedia Journalism Projects

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has announced the Catalyst Fund, a new initiative that will support “as many as 40” multimedia journalism projects in the next two years with $1 million in grants made to journalists working with major news outlets.

In addition to supporting the production of multimedia reportage, the Fund will also support journalists in their efforts to disseminate projects to students through presentations at schools and via the Pulitzer Center website.

The Fund is supported by donations from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, and from individual donors.

“The Pulitzer Center is a leader among a growing field of nonprofit news organizations bringing creative models of production and dissemination to a disrupted news industry,” said Kathy Im, Director of MacArthur Foundation’s Journalism and Media program, in a statement.

The Pulitzer Center says it has already committed Catalyst Fund support to projects that will be published by The New York Times, National Geographic, MSNBC and other outlets.

Journalists interested in applying for Catalyst Fund grants are encouraged to apply through the Pulitzer Center’s grants portal, here: http://www.pulitzercenter.org/grants

Related: Q&A: How to Get Funding From The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

April 14th, 2014

Tyler Hicks, Josh Haner Win 2014 Pulitzer Prizes for Photography

The New York Times has taken both Pulitzer Prizes for photography, prize administrators at Columbia University announced today.

See the full story at PDNOnline.com.

AP, Javier Manzano Win (2013) Pulitzer Prizes for Photography (subscription required)

August 27th, 2013

Police Intimidation Watch: Cop Charged with Lying About a Photographer’s Arrest

A New York City police officer has been charged with felonies and misdemeanors for lying about why he arrested a freelance news photographer, according to a report in The New York Times.

The officer, Michael Ackermann, claimed that he had arrested Robert Stolarik, a freelancer for The New York Times, because Stolarik had repeatedly flashed a camera strobe in Ackermann’s face, thereby interfering with another arrest Ackermann was making at the time. On the basis of photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts of the incident, the Bronx district attorney concluded that Ackermann was lying, according to the Times story.

Stolarik was arrested in August, 2012 when police got angry with him for allegedly refusing to stop taking pictures of an arrest, according to an earlier Times report.

At the time, Stolarik was accompanying two reporters who were conducting street interviews when they came upon a street altercation. When police at the scene ordered Stolarik to cease taking pictures, he identified himself as a journalist for the New York Times, and continued to shoot. A police officer then “slammed” Stolarik’s camera into his face. Stolarik asked for their badge numbers, at which point they took his cameras, dragged him to the ground, and arrested him.

According to a police report, police said they had ordered the crowd and Stolarik to move back “numerous times,” and that Stolarik had resisted arrest “violently.”

Stolarik received minor injuries during the arrest. Police returned his gear about a week after the arrest. The charges against him were eventually dropped.

The Bronx district attorney investigating the case concluded that Stolarik didn’t use a flash during the incident, and didn’t have one on his camera, despite Officer Ackermann’s claims.

Ackermann was charged with filing false records and official misconduct. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could be sentenced to prison and lose his job, according to the Times report.

Police Intimidation Watch: NYPD Arrests Times Freelancer
Police Intimidation Watch: NYPD Returns Cameras to Times Freelancer

August 23rd, 2013

Freelance Photog’s Tale of Abduction By Syrian Rebels Serves As Warning

Today The New York Times published a story about a freelance photographer’s abduction and captivity in Syria. The tale should serve as a warning for photojournalists—particularly those who are inexperienced—who might be inclined to freelance in a war zone.

Matthew Schrier was abducted in Aleppo on December 31, 2012, he told the Times, taken out of a taxi by Syrian rebels with ties to Al Qaeda and passed among rebel groups for seven months. According to the article by CJ Chivers, Schrier believes the driver of the taxi he was riding in out of Aleppo “probably” participated in his abduction.

“His experience reflects the sharply deteriorated climate for foreigners and moderate Syrians in areas subject to the whims of armed religious groups whose members roam roads, staff checkpoints and occupy a constellation of guerrilla bases,” Chivers writes.

Schrier’s captives accused him of working for the CIA, tortured and interrogated him, and assumed his identity online and communicated with his friends and family. In an account of one of the beatings Schrier suffered, Chivers writes, a captor asked Schrier, “Have you heard of Guantánamo Bay?”

When he escaped he left behind another American who couldn’t fit through the small basement window Schrier had slipped out of.

“Mr. Schrier’s detention is one of more than 15 cases of Westerners, mostly journalists, being abducted or disappearing in Syria this year,” Chivers writes. “The victims range from seasoned correspondents to new freelancers, like Mr. Schrier, who was covering his first war.”

Read the full story: http://nyti.ms/1c0IJfh

August 21st, 2013

From Twitter to TIME: An Egyptian Photojournalist Finds His Voice Amid Violence

A difficult reality of photojournalism is that photographers often define their careers by covering conflict. Egyptian photojournalist Mosa’ab Elshamy is the latest example. Elshamy began photographing as a citizen journalist during the Arab Spring protests in Egypt in 2011, when he documented demonstrations against then-President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Two and a half-years later, he’s made the transition from being an amateur to being a photojournalist who is watched by top photo editors and a nearly 40,000-strong Twitter following.

Elshamy’s work in Egypt, and from Gaza during the 2012 war there, has been published by the likes of The Economist and Harper’s among others, and he’s won awards in the Egypt International Photography Contest and Arab Union of Photographers competition. Yet during the last few weeks his photos of Egypt’s descent into violence, particularly his images of the clearing of a pro-Morsi sit-in at Rabaa at the end of July, have earned him the cover of The New York Times and bylines for TIME International and AlJazeera English, among other publications.

Patrick Witty, international picture editor of TIME, says he first heard about Elshamy’s work on Twitter at the end of July. “After the massacre at Rabaa Square on July 27, someone I follow tweeted about a picture he made,” Witty told PDN in an email. “I tracked it back to his Flickr account and reached out to him.” (more…)

May 20th, 2013

NY Times Public Editor Questions T Magazine Photoshopping Policy

In an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the newspaper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, questioned the rules regarding Photoshopping at T, the monthly style magazine published by the Times, and suggested that readers should be notified when fashion images have been digitally manipulated. She also pointed out that editors shouldn’t assume that readers understand the difference between the standards for a news photograph and a fashion photograph.

Responding to comments last week from readers that a T cover model was too skinny, T editor Deborah Needleman told Sullivan that T editors had considered “adding fat” to the model using Photoshop.

Another Times reporter called the comment “jaw-dropping” because journalistic standards would never allow for photography manipulation.

Drawing on comments from other Times picture editors including Michelle McNally of The Times and Kathy Ryan of The New York Times Magazine, Sullivan affirmed the Times’ photography standards: “The Times does not stage news photographs, or alter them digitally.” Except, Sullivan noted, in T‘s case, where it’s deemed acceptable to alter fashion and glamour photography. The assumption being that readers are aware that fashion and glamour is a “different genre of photography,” and therefore the Times’ obligation to those readers is different.

“It would be best if all the photography produced by the Times newsroom could be held to the same standard,” Sullivan wrote. But, she said, if fashion photography must exist as its own world of assumed fantasy, there should be a disclaimer for readers.

Is it realistic to expect that the Times could hold fashion photography to the same standards as news photography? Do readers need to be told that fashion images aren’t “real?”

March 12th, 2013

Photogs Dish Anonymously About Clients’ Rates Via New Tumblr Site

A new site on Tumblr set up by an anonymous editorial photographer seeks to provide a platform where photographers can share information about what clients in all fields, from editorial to advertising to non-profits, pay photographers.

Still in its infancy, the site, Who Pays Photographers, is based on a similar Tumblr, Who Pays Writers, which, you guessed it, lists fees paid to writers. According to the anonymous founder of Who Pays Photographers, the response has been a bit overwhelming, indicating a serious interest among photographers to talk about, and read about, the fees clients pay for photographic work.

Thus far the site has information about The New York Times, Getty Images, AP, AFP, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN and several other clients in the US and abroad.

We exchanged emails with the creator of Who Pays Photographers to find out a bit more about her/his goals for the site.

PDN: How long have you worked as a photographer and in what field?

Who Pays Photographers: I’m an editorial photographer with 6 years experience, about half of that time as a staffer at a magazine, and more recently, as a freelancer.

PDN: What inspired you to start the site? Was it just a natural reaction to seeing Manjula Martin’s Who Pays Writers, or was there more to it?

WPP: The site was a simple reaction to Who Pays Writers, a site that was linked to a number of times during the recent Nate Thayer kerfuffle with the Atlantic. It seemed obvious that the photo industry could really benefit from having such a resource and I found it surprising that nothing of the sort existed. (more…)

February 25th, 2013

POYi Update: The New York Times and The Denver Post Excel

©The Denver Post

©The Denver Post

The New York Times and The Denver Post have both won two top prizes so far in the Multimedia Division of the Pictures of the Year International competition. Multimedia judging began on Friday. It is the final division for the competition, which ends tomorrow.

The New York Times won first prize in both the News Multimedia Story and the Feature Multimedia categories. The winning news multimedia entry, about Syrian rebel fighters, was shot by freelance video journalist Ben Solomon. The feature multimedia entry, about a couple’s struggle with the husband’s dementia, was part of the paper’s series called The Vanishing Mind, and included photographs by freelancer Béatrice de Géa.

Last week, the Times won top prize in for Best Newspaper, a POYi Editing Division category. Runners up for Best Newspaper were The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, respectively.

The Denver Post, meanwhile, won the MacDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award (also part of the Editing Division categories judged last week), as well as first prize in the Issue Reporting Multimedia Story and Sports Multimedia Story categories.

The issue reporting prize was for a project by Mahala Gaylord, Joe Amon, Meghan Lyden, and Tim Rasmussen about two heroin addicts struggling to get by on the streets of Denver. (Still photos from the project also won second prize in the Issue Reporting Picture Story category during the first week of the competition.)

The paper won the Sports Multimedia Story prize for a  project by Mahala Gaylord titled “Trey’s Team,” about a high school football player’s recovery from a head injury.

In the Campaign 2012 Multimedia Story category, Jason Reed and Larry Downing of Reuters won first prize for their story titled “Chasing Obama.”

Among other POYi prize winners in recent days was National Geographic, which won first place for Best Magazine, a POYi Editing Division category.  Runners up for the prize were New York magazine and GEOthema, which took second and third prize, respectively.

TIME magazine won first prize in the Editing Portfolio–Magazine category for its Person of the Year feature about Barack Obama, photographed by Nadav Kander.

POYi Jurors will weigh Documentary Project of the Year entries today. The POYi judging ends tomorrow with the selection of winners in Best eBook & eProject, Best Website, and Multimedia Photographer of the Year categories.

February 11th, 2013

Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter Wins POYi Newspaper Photographer of the Year

Paul-Hansen-POYi-Gaza© Paul Hansen/Dagens Nyheter

Paul Hansen, photographer with the newspaper Dagens Nyheter of Sweden has been named the 2012 Newspaper Photographer of the year in the 70th Pictures of the Year International (POYi).

Hansen was honored for a portfolio that included coverage of the conflict in Gaza and a series on individuals whose lives were affected by the mass murders on the Norwegian island of Utoya in July 2011.

Damon Winter of The New York Times won second place. Dave Weatherwax of The Herald in Jasper, Indiana, won third place.

The judging of the POYi awards takes place over a three-week period. The Freelance/Agency Photographer of the Year category will be judged on Sunday, Feb. 17.

The POYi awards for portrait, campaign, spot news and feature photography were announced last week.

 * Photo, above: An image from “Death from Above-Gaza,” a feature by Paul Hansen of Dagens Nyheter.

Related articles:
Associated Press Wins Top Portrait Prizes at POYi

POYi Announces Campaign, Spot News and Feature Category Winners