November 1st, 2014

PPE 2014: Leading The Revolution in Smartphone Photography

At a panel held at PhotoPlus Expo on Thursday, October 30, panelists discussed the various ways smartphone photography is affecting visual communication and the photography industry.

The talk, titled “Leading the Revolution in Smartphone Photography,” featured TIME magazine Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise, Kira Pollack; photographer Benjamin Lowy; visual communication strategist Stephen Mayes; and Andrew Delaney, Head of Content for Getty Images. The talk was moderated by consultant and educator Patrick Donehue.

Pollack prefaced her portion of the talk by saying that 99.9 percent of the images published by TIME in print and online were made using professional cameras. Pollack emphasized smartphones as communication platforms, noting that they are as important for consuming images as they are making them.

She described TIME‘s coverage of Hurricane Sandy in New York. TIME picture editors gave five photographers, Lowy among them, “the keys” to TIME’s social media channels and they uploaded the images they made immediately. It was an instance when the photo editors of TIME were watching the story develop “in real time,” she said. One of Lowy’s images landed on the cover of the magazine. It was the first time a smartphone image ever made the cover.

Pollack also noted that she uses Instagram to keep track of where photographers are traveling, because they often post images that alert their followers to where they are, making Instagram a tool for editors to find photographers if an assignment comes up.

She also said that TIME had recently begun working with a technology called Capture, which allows users to search for images based on date, time and location. As an example, Pollack showed a screen grab of the search she had done that identified images made in the neighborhood of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment in New York City’s West Village during a two-hour stretch on the night he died.

Lowy, who has photographed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere,s said using smartphone freed him from the need to carry his larger camera with him everywhere, which was liberating.

In conflict zones, smartphone cameras allowed him to move and make pictures less conspicuously. During Hurricane Sandy, as other photojournalists stayed onshore, he was able to wade out into the water with his smartphone, protected in a plastic zipper bag, and make pictures others wouldn’t for fear of ruining their gear.

Lowy also noted, however, that using smartphones in war zones can be dangerous because of the information they transmit. Bashar Al-Assad’s forced were thought to have targeted photojournalist Remi Ochlik and British journalist Marie Colvin in Homs, Syria, by locking in on their satellite phone transmissions. The journalists were killed by artillery.  (The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a report, titled Information Security, that includes safety advice.)

Getty Images’ Andrew Delaney said smartphones are allowing people to capture slice of life imagery, with unique perspectives, that advertising, corporate and editorial clients are interested in. He noted that, with the proliferation of smartphones, Getty is getting a wider and more demographically diverse view of the world from its contributors. Delaney said advertisers need “localized communication and localized imagery,” and that smartphone images are feeding some of that need. He also noted that amateurs are really “leading the charge” when it comes to capturing smartphone imagery that is selling to stock photography clients. A lot of the images of people are unusable, however, because the images aren’t model released.

During his portion of the talk, Mayes pointed out that smartphones have increased the ability of the general public to look at and understand images in a more sophisticated way, a growing sentiment among image makers that I heard quite a few times during this year’s PhotoPlus conference. Photographers “now communicate with people who get what we’re trying to tell them,” Mayes says.

Furthering the “visual language” analogy, Mayes compared images to spoken and written language, pointing out that not all language is precious, and a majority of the billions of images being made are equally expendable.

Mayes also argued that an image today often acts as a “husk for a data package.” For example, an image you make of your child in your yard can, when plugged into search engines, yield information about the child’s location, education, socioeconomic status and so on. Striking an ominous-if-realistic note, Mayes argued that we might be headed for a future in which we’re all digital serfs serving information, through our phones, to a master we don’t even know.

Photographers, if they can master the ways these digital systems work, “can become the masters,” Mayes said, and argued that smartphones had opened a “doorway into a rich area of image-making and communication with a power beyond anything we can imagine at this point.” Stay tuned.

 

September 13th, 2013

Do Execution Photos Serve a Journalistic Purpose?

TIME announced the publication yesterday of “exclusive images taken by a photojournalist of Islamic militants publicly executing, by decapitation, a young Syrian…near Aleppo, on August 31, 2013.” TIME said in the announcement that, “because of the danger in reporting inside Syria,” it cannot confirm the identity or political affiliation of the victim, or the motivation of the killers.

The unnamed photographer gave a statement to Time in which he says, “I was feeling awful; several times I had been on the verge of throwing up. But I kept it under control because as a journalist I knew I had to document this, as I had the three previous beheadings I had photographed that day, in three other locations outside Aleppo.”

Read more at TIME Lighbox. A link to the images accompanied the announcement, but some of us at PDN couldn’t quite bring ourselves to look. Do such images, presented with so little context, do more harm than good?  Do they inform, and stir public outrage that ultimately discourages atrocity? Or does the photographer’s presence encourage the atrocity by giving the perpetrators a forum?

We’d like to hear from our readers about this. The images are posted at http://ti.me/14OW3hX.

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…)

June 10th, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Miller Mobley’s Tips for Landing Clients

Photographer Miller Mobley: How to Build Relationships with Clients from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Miller Mobley built a successful business as an editorial and commercial photographer in his native Alabama, then gave it up to start all over again in New York City. In this video produced by PDN, he discusses how he landed jobs in both places, and the importance of showing new work to potential clients every time he approaches them. To learn more about how Mobley launched and then re-launched his career, see our story, “Miller Mobley’s Transition,” at PDNonline.com.

December 29th, 2010

TIME Mag Calls Mauricio Lima Wire Photog of the Year

Last week TIME magazine called Brazilian photographer Mauricio Lima “Wire Photographer of the Year.” This is the first year TIME has singled out a wire photographer for recognition.

A former sports photographer, the Sao Paulo-based Lima joined AFP ten years ago and has worked in Latin America and the Middle East, among other places.

According to TIME, Lima’s photos from Afghanistan stood out among “the millions of images” coming through the wires this year. It was Lima’s first trip to Afghanistan, during which time he spent a month embedded with Marines in Helmand Province, and another month working on his own while based in Kabul.

Lima told TIME that his goal in Afghanistan was “to document the lives of ordinary people in this extraordinary situation,” which he accomplished by creating “parallel stories, the ones behind the headlines.”

In a gallery of Lima’s images posted on TIME.com, TIME photo editor Phil Bicker commended Lima on his pastel color palette, which Bicker said was perfect for the “dry, dusty landscape and ancient culture” of Afghanistan. Lima noted that “capturing real colors and lights” in his images and using “very little post production” were keys to his work.

To read more about Lima’s work and see a gallery of his images visit:

http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2039390,00.html