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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
CANNES — Getty Images’ evolution from static to moving images is happening at pace in the digital age.
“We have around 1.5 million video clips currently on our site,” company Christian Toksvig told Beet.TV in this video interview. “We are adding something like 10 to 20,000 a month at the moment from our own and our partners’ productions.
Getty Images formed in 1995 and is best known for syndicated still photographs. But, like rival stock photo agencies, Getty has lately branched out to offer multi-media.
“There’s a lot more demand for video, especially on the web,” Toksvig said. “That demand is driving our supply.”
Toksvig was speaking to Beet.TV during last month’s Cannes Lions advertiser conflab, where Getty sponsored the Young Lions award, in which budding creatives race against the clock to produce a hot campaign.
For more on Getty’s ambitions, also see Forbes’ interview, in which Toksvig says: “We’re the Amazon of content.”
Jonathan Torgovnik, photographer and MediaStorm contributor, will teach “An emphasis on the ‘other,’” during the 2013 international festival of photography, Les Rencontres d’Arles. The week-long workshop will dive into the unspoken language and emotional connections between photographer, subject, and environment.
Participants will navigate through the intimate and, at times, intense process of creating a successful portrait, with an emphasis on photographing people in their personal environments, in and around their homes, workplaces, or on the street.
Registration is available online.
Date: July 8-13, 2013
Location: Arles (Provence, France)
Summary: Participants will learn how to meet the challenges of establishing a deep connection with subjects in a relatively short period of time. The workshop addresses the different approaches required when photographing a personal project, or on assignment, exploring a range of light sources, but always with emphasis on keeping it simple and personal. Course content includes:
Les Recontres d’Arles is a summer festival of photography, founded in 1970 by photographer Lucien Clergue, writer Michael Tournier and historian Jean-Maurice Rouquette. The festival shows mostly unseen materials and features over 60 exhibitions, often co-produced with French and foreign museums and institutions. It’s objectives are to come up with new photographic processes, to be aware of the use of new techniques and to offer new concepts in photographic exhibition and a genuine connection with the image.
More information is available on Rencontres-Arles.com.
PhotoShelter and Wonderful Machine recently published Pricing Your Work: Corporate & Industrial Photography offering insights from Wonderful Machine CEO Bill Cramer to help create estimates and fee structures for your work.
The guide includes tips on what to charge for corporate and industrial shoots, how to find clients and get smart with contracts, plus the main factors that influence the value of an assignment.
PhotoShelter is the leader in portfolio websites, photo sales, marketing and archiving tools for photographers. Over 74,000 photographers worldwide use PhotoShelter to power their success online, with customizable website templates, searchable photo galleries, e-commerce capabilities, and bulletproof image storage. Learn more at www.photoshelter.com.
For the fifth consecutive year, AnthropoGraphia presents a series of human-interest stories that won’t appear on the front pages of newspapers. Continuing their commitment to advancing human rights advocacy through visual storytelling, the organization selected Liu Jie, whose work explores the problems of urban migration in China, and François Pesant, who investigated sexual abuse among U.S. soldiers, as this year’s Still Photography winners. Dirk-Jan Visser’s documentation of a young woman’s political activism in Guinea Conakry was selected as the winner of the Multimedia category.
The Migrant Nation documents the stories of China’s rural families, separated due to urban migration: the millions of workers who leave their homes as well as the children and old people left behind. In the final phase of this project, Liu Jie reunites each family through photography. (“The Migrant Nation”/Liu Jie)
Each year, in the most powerful military force on the planet, the U.S. Army, tens of thousand of women are sexually assaulted by their male colleagues. Few report these assaults, while those who do risk being expelled from the military, and have only a slight chance of seeing the perpetrator brought to justice. (“An Enemy Within”/François Pesant)
Mabintou is a young woman from Guinea Conakry who, for eight years, has lived in Paris as a ‘sans-papiers’. Despite an uncertain future, she continues her political activism, following developments in Guinea and fighting for recognition in France for those who are without legal status. (“In Conakry They Called Me Princess”/Dirk-Jan Visser)
MediaStorm’s film “I Know Where I’m Going,” created for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with Simon Schorno, Leandro Badalotti, and Tara Todras-Whitehill, was selected for the Multimedia Shortlist. All Honorary Mentions and Shortlist entries can be viewed at AnthropoGraphia.org.
Hussein Saleh was born in an area of Yemen partially controlled by an Al Qaeda-affiliated group. This film follows him as he networks with the government and other parties to ensure that the Red Cross can carry out its humanitarian mission. Shortly after the film was made, he was killed by an airstrike.
AnthropoGraphia is a non-for-profit organization based in Montreal, Canada. The name AnthropoGraphia is a combination of the Greek words “anthropo” and “graphia”, which literally means ‘human-being – writing’. The essence of these terms reveals AnthropoGraphia’s mission: to write human stories, using photography as the medium. The organization is committed to the denunciation of human rights abuses through high-quality photography. It’s aim is to raise general awareness of issues that often marginalized by mainstream media.
Few can say they didn't see it coming. but many felt the final nail in the coffin was firmly in place when at the end of 2011 CNN fired 50 photojournalists.
The international news network explained its decision in a letter:
We looked at the impact of user-generated content and social media, CNN iReporters and of course our affiliate contributions in breaking news. Consumer and pro-sumer technologies are simpler and more accessible. Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company.
What exactly led up to this is point is hard to pinpoint; it's a chicken-or-egg situation. Some might say it began with the lowered cost of DSLR cameras or the fact that every cell phone began to come with a camera.
Another camp will point fingers at the steady decline of the newspaper industry and its inability to maintain exclusivity as the daily go-to for information, leading to a shift of quantity over quality.
Add to that the crash of world economies, and the result is that photojournalists have been losing their jobs to mass layoffs for the last few years.
But many are rallying and turning on the video function on their DSLR cameras and becoming video journalists.
One successful photojournalist who early on made the transition to video is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Vincent Laforet. He told me that when he was growing up, he wanted to study both journalism and film. "I picked journalism in the end and am happy I did so. When the Canon 5D MKII came out -- it seemed to be the perfect timing to make the transition for me," he said.
Laforet dove into video early on when the technology presented itself and has made a name in the video world. He is now a member of the Directors Guild of America.
I also spoke with two photojournalists currently incorporating video into their reporting, Ana Elisa Fuentes and Julie Dermansky.
Ana Elisa Fuentes' photography has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Life, Vanity Fair, People Magazines and the Los Angeles Times, and Julie Dermansky has been working with The Atlantic, US News, The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
I asked them why they first started shooting video, what difference they find between photojournalism and video, and what they think of the current market for photojournalists.
Ana Elisa Fuentes: Clearly the market for photojournalism, at least in the United States, is shrinking -- specifically, the day-in-and-day-out photojournalism as seen in daily newspapers and magazines. This is very sad, and I see this as perilous and injurious to democracy. Journalists are the fourth estate, part of the check and balance of our democratic process. Images are essential to an open society.
The most profound difference for me between video and photography is in "still" -- in photography, you can wait for hours for the right moment. The waiting requires patience, for what Henri Cartier Bresson coined as "the decisive moment." When you have captured this moment, everything comes together.
I believe having more tools available in the tool box is essential for photographers or anyone in visual media. I also believe photographers have to become more creative in how still images can be used or sold. I often recommend up-and-coming journalists to think "packaging." What languages do you speak? How many? Polish your writing skills. Acquire multimedia skills. Your office is your laptop -- update, update, update."
Julie Dermansky: I started out as an artist showing my work in galleries and selling it on the streets of NYC in 1988. In 2004, I switched my focus from painting and sculpture to photography. I branched out from my in-depth personal projects into the realm of photojournalism in 2008. Labeling myself an artist or a photojournalist is of no consequence to me. I leave that for others. I started to learn video when I went to Iraq in 2008 and started to make a habit of shooting video along with my stills using a Canon 5D MKII in 2010.
Technically, photography and video require some of the same skills. The hardest thing sometimes is to decide whether to shoot video or stills -- often by doing both you can end up with work that is not as good as it should be. It is very hard to go back and forth, and inevitably you will miss the still you wish you would have taken -- or missed the moment of action you wanted to film. So generally, I shoot stills first and video once I'm done, though I don't always stick with that standard. Emotionally, that has more to do with the situation than the media. Both are fantastic tools to work with.
I have worked with a cameraman and produced video news packages from Iraq, so I picked up tips from him. Working with a pro in the editing phase taught me a lot of what is needed to make a news package.
This is a terrible market for photojournalists since so many photographers are willing to give their work away for free. Media outlets have started to rely on the free stuff. There is a small number of photojournalists who are able to continue to make a living, but the whole marketplace seems to deliver lower and lower paychecks -- and there are fewer jobs. Crowdsourcing and free photos are lowering the bar of quality as well. Some talented members of the photography community have had to drop out to make a living in a different way.
Shooting video helps keep a photographer marketable as news media wants both stills and film these days, and they want it for one price. If you can't do it, they take someone who can. Also, in the commercial world, video commands higher fees than stills, so for practical purposes video shooting is a skill one needs to have to survive. Not to learn it is to limit yourself. You should take advantage of all available tools at your disposal. That is how I see it."
Julie Dermansky is interviewed by Fox News about her photojournalism work on the Occupy movement.
Adam Westbrook, a multimedia producer who writes and lectures on the subject of video journalism, believes there are many pitfalls to be avoided when photographers move into video.
He even wrote a guide to common mistakes.
Some include: forgetting the importance of audio or not using a tripod when needed and, most importantly, understanding "show, don't tell" as a principle of visual storytelling. As he aptly says, "Five years after YouTube's birth there's probably not a newsroom in the land that isn't trying to do video journalism in some way or another."
Some of the mistakes Westbrook points out can be avoided with proper training, but that appears to be something many employers are not willing to pay for. As early as 2009, the question of whether or not newspapers would be willing to train their photographers to become video journalists was being investigated by Blake Kimzey for Black Star Rising: "Training for photojournalists in video varies from newspaper to newspaper -- but at many papers, it's been spotty at best. Most photographers say sufficient training and the time to learn are seldom provided. While some newspapers send their staffers to attend industry conferences, and others offer in-house courses, many staffers say they mostly learn through trial-and-error on the job."
This appears to still be a problem -- as Sean D. Elliot, president of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), recently told me: "Unfortunately for our members, the publications have been wanting the video, but they have not generally been willing to pay for the training. Many visual journalists have paid their own ticket to attend NPPA's many video and multimedia workshops."
Elliot said that the advent of web video and multimedia led the NPPA to reconfigure many of their educational programs some years back.
"This was in the era when newspapers everywhere were looking at web video as the salvation of their operations. Time has shown that nobody has been able to monetize web video well enough for it to be any sort of saving grace," he said. "Many papers have either eliminated or curtailed their web video efforts. Some chose to focus on doing less video but doing it better, and some have simply dropped any semblance of quality, opting instead for short snippets of video shot by reporters with smartphones or Flip-type cameras. The jury is still out on where this will fit into the long-term journalism paradigm."
Laforet has some wise advice for photographers interested in learning video: "It's a very different field -- and not for everyone. I recommend they try it out first before making the commitment. I recommend they study the competition and the economics of the field they are going into. Just as there are many different sub-fields and specialties and budgets in photography -- the same is true of video. It's a bold move, but one that many should at the very least try, in my opinion."
"Reverie" -- Vincent Laforet was the director and cinematographer on this video considered to be the first 1080p widely released shot on the Canon 5D MKII. It was viewed more than 2 million times in the first week of its release.
I tried to track down an official study of how many photojournalists had lost their jobs in the last few years in the U.S. NPPA didn't know exact figures, and Kenny Irby, a senior faculty member at Poynter, said he didn't know of any study offering numeric data. He explained that collecting such data took a great deal of resources and money, something scarce these days. "We know that staff sizes and the number of 'feet on the street' reporters are way down," he added.
In an article on Poynter in 2009, photographer Ami Vitale, whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Newsweek, Time and Smithsonian, was optimistic about her experience with video: "This is the best time to be a photojournalist. We have more tools available than ever before, and we also have an audience bigger than any time in the history of mankind ... I see this as a wonderful time to exploit all these tools for the power of good!"
Yet in an interview earlier this year, Dan Chung, a photo and video journalist and founder of the popular website DSLRNewsShooter, said, "I don't really see a future in photojournalism, if I'm completely honest, as a way to earn a living. But also there are a lot of creative opportunities with moving images that you couldn't possibly dream of doing with stills. I'm surprised, though, that relatively few other photographers have made that conversion."
A video of a military parade in North Korea shot by Dan Chung for The Guardian.
But with the cell phones in everyone's pocket being equipped with HD video capability, will free crowdsourced material just take over video journalism as well? Laforet gave a nuanced answer: "I'm afraid so. But not to the same degree. The production hurdles and the amount of work involved in getting a good video piece out (pre-production, script, storyboarding, editing, music, mixing, grading, etc.) makes it more complex than making a single photograph. It's very hard for most to do all of these specialties alone -- it almost demands working with others and therefore becomes more complex and, more often than not, more expensive."
It looks like the term "visual journalist" will become a common phrase. "The move to online has been, arguably, a boon to visual journalism as far as the potential audience is concerned, but obviously the challenges that the web has posed to the business model of newspapers has led to a lot of lost jobs," Elliot said.
As for the problem of many photographers losing their jobs to "citizen journalists" as in the CNN case, Elliot said, "The reality that citizen journalists will have a better chance of 'being there' for the big moment is only more real today. The democratization of photography, where one no longer needs to have esoteric darkroom skills and tens of thousands of dollars of equipment to produce images of relative high quality has certainly affected certain markets.
"But the need for visual journalists who have a command of both the technical aspects of still and video as well as the mind-set for quality visual storytelling remains. Video storytelling is different in execution than still photography, without a doubt. But it has been well-established that very talented still photographers can make the transition back and forth between the media and enhance their visual reporting."
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few years. Certainly the public's demand for visual content shows no sign of declining. Just this month, the Associated Press announced its own online video delivery platform. Clearly, demand is high, and rising.
Amanda Lin Costa is a writer and producer in the film and television industry. She writes a series called "Truth in Documentary Filmmaking" and is currently producing the documentary, "The Art of Memories."
This piece was originally published by the European Journalism Centre, an independent non-profit institute dedicated to the highest standards in journalism, primarily through the further training of journalists and media professionals. Follow @ejcnet for Twitter updates, here on Facebook and on the EJC Online Journalism Community.
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In the final research panel at ISOJ, Rosellen Downey, Erika Johnson, and Bailey Brewer, University of Missouri, looked at the coverage in photos of the Japanese tsunami.
The study, Through the lens: Visual framing of the Japan tsunami in U.S., British, and Chinese online media, looked at how the Japanese tsunami was reflected in the images of US, British and Chinese media.
The researchers examined at 242 photos, 58 from NPR, 52 from the BBC and 132 from Xinhua. The photos were collected over three days from March 11 to 13,
The study found that two-thirds of the photos had people in them and the majority of people were Japanese.
In photos on the BBC, there were few photos that just had officials. They tended to have a mix of officials and civilians. Xinhua, by comparison, featured mainly civilians
Few photos featured a single individual. Most were of groups.
China had the most visual coverage, due to geographic proximity.
The researchers didn’t find as many officials in the coverage as expected and instead tended to feature civilians and aid workers, highlighting the human dimension of the tragedy.
Photographers who might have aspired to see their work published on the glossy pages of a magazine can now opt for the glossy screen of an iPad.
Once Magazine, a "visual storytelling" app for the iPad, is a new showcase for photographers' work and related multimedia. The app provides three cohesive photo essays, each with an array of high-resolution photos that are united by narrative text and supplemented by other features, such as infographics and audio clips.
Once's free pilot issue was released in August. Its next issue -- which will cost $2.99 and offer subscription options -- will likely be released in October with the debut of Apple's iOS 5 and its new Newsstand feature. Once is yet another magazine app that challenges our understanding of what magazines are -- and might be. Its founders think it might also represent an important path into the future of photography.
Once's strategy is to assemble "stories worth touching," said publisher Andrew Jones, in order to make the most of the iPad's interface and its ability to display high-quality images.
The app's focus on quality visuals means that its editorial process begins with the photography. The editorial team identifies photographers with intriguing work and asks them to participate. After about 20 photos on one theme are selected, the Once editorial team identifies a journalist with relevant knowledge and experience, and commissions text that wraps a compelling story around the photo sequence. Additional interactive elements and audio clips are added to the photos to enrich the reading experience.
The three photo essays included in Once's pilot edition cover a lot of territory, and each depict life in different regions: the far reaches of Greenland; Abkhazia, a region of the country of Georgia; and Sun City, Ariz., a retirement community near Phoenix.
While photographers whose work is used in Once may have taken these photos while working on other projects, the text used with them is newly developed.
"It's a unique editorial model in that the stories are built retroactively. It fits well with our budget and our business model," said Nick Hiebert, Once's communications director. "We don't have to pay journalists upfront to go to these countries. We find journalists who are already in these areas or already have expertise in the area, which makes reporting much easier for them and more cost-effective."
Photographer Andrea Gjestvang, whose photographs of life in Greenland are included in the pilot issue, appreciated the opportunity for a different selection of her images to tell a new story in Once.
"I like the idea that they brought in the journalist who wrote the independent text. [It was] her words, her story, but it went very well with my pictures," said Gjestvang, a freelance photographer who is based in Norway. "Normally, when I have been presenting this project, I've been focusing more on the daily life and social life, whereas they focused more on the hunting side. The selection of pictures was a bit different than what I normally use, but it was nice that one big project can have different stories within the project."
Once's high-end visual concept is based on its founders' observation that the public is increasingly interested in and sensitive about photography, but so far it's been difficult to make photography lucrative.
"Once is addressing a number of problems, we like to think, one of them being that photography is not paying very well," Jones said. Yet DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras and cell phone photography have helped more people take higher-quality photos and in greater quantities, he observed.
"It seems like a real disconnect. More people know more and are exposed to really high-quality photography. Once is trying to leverage that whole shift in consumer habits, toward thinking about photographs being really valuable," Jones said.
Starting with the next issue, photographers published in Once will receive a cut of the magazine's revenues. The $2.99 charge for each issue first will be reduced by Apple's standard 30 percent cut, then the remainder is split: half to the magazine and half divided among the three published photographers. So far, the magazine's writers have received a flat fee, but Once is exploring ways to include them in the revenue-sharing model as well.
Hiebert noted that this isn't usually how photographers are paid for their work. "Typically, photographers are contracted with a set amount of money. Because we have this new data that Apple gives us through iTunes, we're allowed to see how many downloads are coming -- and how much money the magazine is making -- much more accurately than publications in the past that were relying on traditional sales data," he said.
Photographer Gjestvang is hopeful that this model will appeal to a wider audience.
"Many photographers hope that it will bring a new way of publishing work in the future which will also pay for what you are doing," she said. "Of course, you need the audience to pay for the project that you spend so much time on ... It's also important that if you want to have a broad audience, to not only make a magazine for other photographers, but for all kinds of people, to make the audience curious about what's going on in the world."
The Once concept is likely to evolve to include additional multimedia -- though photography will always play a major role -- and to be available on new platforms.
"We're trying to push a new type of storytelling experience that is only available on the iPad, kind of a tactile experience," Jones said. "That learning experience, that entertainment experience is so much richer when we can bring in the reader through physically touching."
Today's photographers shooting with DSLRs often capture audio and video that can be incorporated into Once. Infographics are also now easier to create with new online tools. The complexity of the app as a whole, though, is still somewhat limited by technical considerations.
"We would love to include as much video and audio in every essay [as we could], but the truth of the matter is that it increases file size and that maybe affects download numbers," Hiebert said. "We also don't want to ... distract from the narrative focus."
The magazine plans to move next to the iPhone, then to explore opportunities on Android platforms, including the new Kindle Fire tablet, which require more development than the shift to the iPhone. The potential for the forthcoming iPad 3 to include a higher-resolution "retina display," similar to that already used for the iPhone 4, would also be an ideal match for Once's content, Jones said.
The new platforms will likely lead to still more innovations.
"The iPad has allowed us to develop a pretty unique product in Once. You don't envision a magazine as a three-essay package," Hiebert said. "But we can reconceptualize what the magazine is, now that there are different platforms for delivering them."
Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication at Linfield College. Her research focuses on magazines and media communities. She also blogs at sivekmedia.com, and is the magazine correspondent for MediaShift.
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Sitting in a lawn chair outside the Spokane Apple Store last week, I pondered the absurdity of my week-long quest to buy an iPad 2. Arriving at 5 a.m. netted me the sixth spot in line and an eventual 16-gig wifi slate of glass and aluminum.
Did I really need another digital device to supplement all the other Apple products that grace my home and workspace? No, of course not. But using the iPad 2 this past week has made me giddy with excitement as I discover one new feature or application after another. It’s interesting, when I demonstrate to people who have never seen or touched one, how utterly amazed they are. Suffice to say this multimedia device is smokin’ hot. There are enough glowing reviews on the Web that I don’t need to pontificate much more.
A great tool for photojournalists
The one thing I really wanted to do with my iPad 2 was edit and send photos from the field back to the newspaper. I couldn’t find much info from other photojournalists about what applications would help me replace Photo Mechanic and Photoshop on my laptop. Nor could I find anyone who was using the iPad to send their photos via FTP (File Tranfer Protocol) back to their newspapers. I can happily announce that during my first photo assignment today I did just that.
My first stop last week was to the Apple iPad App Store where I found this amazing little program called Photogene. It allows me to crop, tone, caption and send my photos all from a three dollar application. The best part is that it has a built in FTP, so I can send my photos directly into our Merlin archive system.
Here was my workflow today:
Will the iPad 2 replace a laptop? Probably not. I think the iPad is perfect if you need to move a couple of photos from your car during a breaking news event. It’s not be ideal for slogging 300 photos from a high school basketball game.
You need to buy the Camera Connection Kit from Apple ($30.00), which includes an SD card reader and a Apple connector to mini USB cord. I wish there was a CF card reader, but the cable works as advertised.
Typing a caption is easy, but it is all on one line that gets obscured as you type past the field boundary. A bigger caption field for photojournalists is a must have.
Get the PhotoSync application ($1.99). It lets you transfer photos to and from your iPhone, computer and iPad wirelessly. It also lets you bypass the iTunes software, which is not really intended for photos.
I also bought the pro upgrade for eight dollars. It adds a few more things that professionals need such as applying star ratings, adding personal watermarks to exported images, saving your FTP settings, adjusting RGB curves individually, and controlling JPEG export settings.
If any other photojournalists are using an iPad to edit photos please share your experiences in comments below!
David Shankbone is arguably the most influential new media photojournalist in the world.
He has taken over 1,000 portraits of prominent people across a variety of fields for articles on Wikipedia.com and its foreign language equivalents. Because the pictures are copyleft -- or free for reproduction, alteration, and distribution -- they are used by numerous non-profits, schools, authors, television programs and well known publications, such as the New York Times and the Miami Herald.
He has also interviewed leaders ranging from Al Sharpton to former Israeli President Shimon Peres and given presentations in the United States and abroad about Wikipedia, new media and Internet culture.
But, as a recent Columbia Journalism Review article about this famous Wikipedian revealed, Shankbone isn't even his real name and journalism isn't his profession. It's David Miller and his day job is doing legal work on Wall Street.
In spite of all that, Miller -- as Shankbone -- has had a big influence on the development of web culture. In a discussion conducted via email, I asked Shankbone about his controversial contributions to Wikipedia, the way the web and WikiLeaks are changing journalism, and what he thinks legacy media organizations need to do to survive in the digital age.
Your portraits of famous people range from Taylor Swift to Gore Vidal, and they have been used by news sites ranging from Vanity Fair to Forbes. Do you identify yourself as a photojournalist, artist, or what?
Shankbone: Probably more of an artist. Information is realist art and I create information. The challenge to be empirical was more exciting for me than infusing my work with my own perspective.
A few years ago your photo documenting the making of an adult film was banned by the Australian government. Do you think the Internet pushes society's limits of what is acceptable, or does it reflect what is already there?
Shankbone: Knowledge pushes those boundaries. Few aspects of society are hidden any more and Wikipedia's approach to unadulterated information plays a hand.
Explicit images on Wikipedia have been very controversial, but time is on the side of the editors who want little censorship of reality. There's a rational line to be drawn, but what kind of porn researcher would be surprised and offended to see an example of how it's made on the pornography article [in Wikipedia]?
Another one of your photos, "Palestinian Boy with Toy Gun in Nazareth" (below, left) you placed on the Wikipedia article Children and Minors in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This caused controversy because some critics believed you were trying to push a political view, since you had taken it on a press junket that was funded by the Israeli government. What prompted you to choose that photo?
Shankbone: I saw the photograph and thought about the debate over whether children playing with toy weapons increases violence. A few years earlier in Israel, a child with a toy gun was shot by a soldier -- something that also happens in the United States with the police. There was also a study in Israel about the psychological effects the conflict had on children. So, given all of that, I thought the photograph of a child in Israel with a toy gun worked.
It was only a few people who took the worst possible interpretation, which is that I was portraying this child as a terrorist. At the same time I placed Palestinian Kids in Nazareth, a photo of his friends hugging, on the Friendship article, and that photo is now found on the Palestinian people article.
How do you feel about the role digital media is playing in the Middle East protests?
Shankbone: Satellite and Internet make it impossible to control what people know. I am as nervous as anyone about how it will all look a year from now, but the desire of a nation to be freer and find its own voice is something to be cheered, even when it's not clear that it's in America's best interest.
What impact have the Internet and bloggers had on journalism?
Shankbone: Corporatism hurt American journalism and the Internet exposed that it was no longer functioning as the Fourth Estate. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller admitted that the government vetted the Wikileaks cables before [his paper] published them. What a far cry from the Pentagon Papers. It's a problem. We need the media. But everyone across the political spectrum is angry because too often journalists fail at what they purport to do.
WikiLeaks is a polarizing force in American media. Is the radical transparency espoused by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange changing traditional journalism mores?
Shankbone: WikiLeaks means the public will expose lies, horror, and hypocrisy if the media won't. The best analysis is on blogs and the best journalism is public or foreign. American reporters crave 'access' -- and their editors demand it, no matter how much it corrupts.
I recently had a drink with a writer from Gawker and I said, 'You guys must be invited to so many incredible parties.' He replied, 'Believe it or not, we aren't because people are worried that we will write something unflattering.' A real journalist should be able to say the same. Instead, I photograph them on red carpets.
Sadly for the foreseeable future, hacks will reign at the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times will be a degraded mess, the New York Times will fumble along, and cable news will be little better than talk radio.
What changes would you like to see legacy media organizations make in the digital age?
Shankbone: They think to be neutral is to be uncontroversial and to not assert the truth. They think balance means two opposing views and that somewhere in the middle is moderation. Such ridiculous notions have come to define the attempt to present reality to their audiences. The jig is up: Everybody knows that it's impossible to be totally neutral.
Don't shout from the rooftops that you have a perspective, just stop insisting that you don't and try your damnedest not to let it bias your facts. Mimic the example of the profitable Economist magazine, the most respected publication in the world. Fox News would be great if it was a place where the interesting nuance of conservative thought was hashed out before its viewers.
Be daring. Try new things. Newspapers should involve local citizen reporters in their articles, with talent the only barrier to consideration. Discover the good local bloggers and photographers and develop relationships with them. Dispatch them. Pay them a nominal fee. Have regular reporters work with locals and give them one of those "additional reporting by..." credits. That would help foster a cohesive bond with the communities that they serve.
All images by David Shankbone, via Wikipedia.
Sandra Ordonez calls herself a web astronaut who has been helping organizations navigate the Internet since 1997. In the last two years, she has collected over 200 interviews on the future of journalism, and was one of the first Communication Managers for Wikipedia. She specializes in community management, collaboration, and artisan branding. Her official site, Collaborative Nation, is a home for tecno-activists. She also heads up the Facebook page, Bicultural and Multicultural People Rule." She graduated from American University with a double degree in International Relations and Public Relations.
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An image taken by the student when he was stopped by plain-clothes officers
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was an ongoing problem for photographers and journalists using mobile phones who would find themselves stopped, searched, and sometimes arrested by police. After ongoing pressure and a judgement in the European Court of Human Rights, the section was finally suspended last July.
Now Amateur Photographer reports on the Metropolitan Police defending officers’ decision to stop and search a student for merely taking photographs near a school (the image above was being taken when he was approached by police). The search was done under Section 43, which “can only be enforced if a police officer ‘reasonably suspects’ a person to be a terrorist.”
Meanwhile, police are seeking new powers to replace those given under Section 44.
If you use mobile technology in your journalism, it’s worth keeping the stop and search bust card about you.
A curious development over at Basetrack this afternoon. (You may remember Basetrack as Teru Kuwayama’s Knight News Challenge-winning project to use social media to tell stories about an American military unit in Afghanistan.) Word from Kuwayama is that they’re being asked to leave the Marine regiment they’ve been working with.
Posting on Basetrack’s blog, Kuwayama wrote: “It was hard to get clarification on why, how or who issued the order…but we’ll keep you posted.”
While praising Basetrack for the work they’ve done to highlight the lives of Marines serving overseas, a memo from the unit’s public affairs officer says they’re asking Basetrack to leave because of “perceived operational security violations.” From the memo:
These concerns are legitimate. Specifically the websites tie in to google maps to display friendly force locations. At this time there has been no official OpSec determination yet and therefore they are being asked to leave and NOT disembedded (disembedding is a formal process that occurs after OpSec determinations have been finalized). RCT 8 Public Affairs concerns lie in the fact that anytime too much information is aggregated in one place in a fashion tying unit disposition and manpower together we have facilitated the enemy.
The news is a surprise to say the least: Kuwayama has spent extensive time embedded with Marines. The about face by the military is more surprising, as Kuwayama told The New York Times last year that the Marines were the ones who asked him to come along to chronicle the lives of soldiers. One of the more remarkable aspects of Basetrack is the collaboration between soldiers and the project’s photographers, a melding that allowed Marines to connect with family and friends back here in the states. (A quick look at responses on Basetrack’s Facebook page shows a mix of confusion, sadness and pragmatism as troops safety is their top priority.) And the integration with mapping tools is one of the most impressive elements of Basetrack’s site.
Kuwayama was a speaker at December’s #niemanleaks conference, where he told the audience about the lengths Basetrack goes to to make sure they don’t release sensitive information. Kuwayama called it a “denial of information” system, that allowed for the military to quickly and easily redact information as needed. We’re reaching out to him to see if we can get more clarity on what exactly this means for Basetrack.
The Guardian reports on the AP photographer whose image dominated the front pages today. The following passage on how he returned to his office with a member of the public who had filmed it on his mobile phone passes by without remark:
“The adrenaline was running by now. So I turned [the flash] on and took five pictures. I realised they were important and I saw another guy shooting video on his phone.
“So I got him into a taxi and we went back to AP’s offices in Camden.”
…of life continues. What comes around, goes around. The above visual is from the McNair Fall Choir Concert – a poster to promote excellence for display in the library. Just can’t stay away from that place.
So here I am in my nth month of retirement and STILL trying to catch up with myself when I find myself once again leading students thru visual learning. Today it’s 4H photography, video, and poultry (don’t laugh please – I LOVE my chickens). The latter will most likely become subjects for the two former projects. Nothing cuter than a baby chick.
Today’s focus is just the basics – what do YOU expect to learn as well as intro the the camera and photo/video terms. Since we’re only meeting bout half a dozen times this year, they will have homework of sorts…but as usual, my 4H kiddos are motivated and want to be here. Let’s see how this goes…
Late last month, when tornado-like, end-times-are-nigh-style winds sliced through New York City, Time magazine posted to its NewsFeed an image of a twister forming in the waters beyond the Statue of Liberty — menacing, dark, grainy. The story the mag published — “Gotham Tornado: Amazing Photo of Twister Passing Statue of Liberty” — let the image in question pretty much speak for itself, with the only text accompanying the photo being its headline and twelve SEO-friendly tags. Turns out, though, that the graininess of the image was a symptom not of camera-phone authenticity, but of old age: The photo was shot in 1976.
Time’s mistake — the overzealous posting of an image that, given its context, would seem to be authentic — is one that almost any news organization could make. How, after all, do we check the accuracy of news images, particularly in moments of breaking-news urgency? Though we’re seeing a blossoming of fact-checking in text-based journalism, we have yet to see an equivalent movement in image-based news reporting — mostly, of course, because we lack good tools for determining whether images are authentic or manipulated, whether they depict what they claim to or something else entirely. Which is disturbing, given that we look to images — the raw material of the world, supposedly filtered only through a camera’s lens — to give us an unvarnished view of human events.
Enter Hany Farid. A computer science professor at Dartmouth, Farid is a pioneer in the field of digital forensics, figuring out how to analyze images to determine their authenticity. (Think CSI: Photojournalism.) In his day-to-day work, Farid deals with the algorithmic aspects of photo manipulation — how to translate light and shadow, for example, into data sets that will detect whether a particular image could actually exist in the real world.
“The issues of photo manipulation are going well beyond just the technical, mathematical, geek stuff,” Farid notes. “We’re struggling as a society to deal with what happens when this thing that we have learned to trust over so many years” — the photographic image — “becomes incredibly untrustworthy. And that, to me, is extremely interesting.”
The biggest element of mistrust is the increasing prevalence of manipulation, via Photoshop and other tools. While, most often, those programs are used to create basic composites, or ironically derivative images (cf: Rebecca Gayheart’s Noxemas, courtesy of Gawker), more and more, they’re also being used to produce composites designed to mislead the viewer. Take a tabloid photo of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on a beach, which seems, at first, true to its caption: “CAUGHT TOGETHER!” Study the image closely, though — actually analyze it — and it becomes apparent that the photo is doctored: Its stars are lit from opposite sides. The image is a combination of two separate photos of the couple merged together through the magic of image-layering. (See more about this photo here.)
One problem is that our brains simply don’t seem to be wired for the kind of bit-by-bit observation such analysis requires. On the contrary: When it comes to images, our minds — which tend to interpret images as singular units, rather than composites of atomic ones — can often abet manipulation. “Your brain is remarkable, but it has some pretty serious limitations,” Farid says. And one of those limitations is image assessment. On sabbatical last year in Berkeley, he worked with neuroscientists and vision scientists, studying the limits of the visual system. In general, “people tend to over-trust their eye…and that’s a very dangerous game to be playing.”
Now, photo-tampering is becoming so prevalent, Farid notes, that mistrust of images is slowly becoming our default. “There’s almost a backlash,” he says, “and now there’s this over-skepticism of everything out there. It’s amazing.”
Digital forensics — shifting the analysis of images from an art to a science — is one way for images to earn back our trust. Forensic techniques “can help bring some sanity to this.” And the field “just continues to get more and more sophisticated,” Farid notes. “We’re able to do things today that a few years ago seemed unimaginable. And a few years from now, we’ll do something that, today, seems unimaginable.” Farid and his team have been developing software that can be used — by news organizations, in particular — to analyze the authenticity of images before publishing them. It’ll be a few years before that software is ready to be used, he notes; but “we are just getting to the stage where, I think, commercialization is viable.”
That’s a good thing, because the need for rigorous analysis of images is, and will continue to be, increasingly urgent. “It used to be, if you had a handful of photojournalists around the country, you could have some kind of quality control,” Farid points out. But now — “when everybody’s got a cell phone with video and images and they’re posting on their blogs, and to Twitter and YouTube” — the ethics of photojournalism are being tested and shifted. An analytic platform could bring a sense of universality back to those principles. “The issue with photo manipulation is that it’s not black-and-white,” Farid notes. “There are certain types of photo manipulation which are completely acceptable — and there are other ones that are completely unacceptable.” Images have always held a powerful place in journalism, of course, and “you’ve always been able to editorialize with photographs.” But now, Farid says, “it’s a question of degree.” Now, using images, “you can really change the entire story. And that, obviously, is a very different beast.”
The chairman of the Al Ahram Group, whose newspaper was internationally critcised for publishing an altered image of world leaders at recent Middle East peace talks, defended the photoshopping as an artistic illustration of the story.
Speaking at the World Editors Forum in Hamburg, Abdel Moniem Said said the photo, which showed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak walking ahead of other world leaders, including Barack Obama, at the talks, was viewed out of context.
“We published all the photos after the Washington meetings, and then we had another meeting 14 days later in Sharm el Sheik led by Mubarak [the Egyptian president],” Said told delegates.
The subsequent feature in the paper was labelled “special report” and used five photos from the meeting, of which the altered image was one. According to Said, there was a caption accompanying the changed picture describing how Egypt was leading the piece talks
The story of the “tampered” image was picked up by international news outlets, including the Guardian and Telegraph, after first being spotted by a blogger.
But Said condemned the way in which the photo was republished, saying it was stripped of its titling, caption, artist’s signature and context.
“I can give at least 100 cases that did the same thing to illustrate a case even using Obama himself,” he said, referring to criticism of a recent Economist front cover.
Said said he had written to many of the news organisations who had reported the picture, but none had published his response. The Guardian did include a report on Al Ahram’s editor’s defence of the image.Similar Posts:
This camera is one bad boy. Yesterday, I set my ISO at 4000 and left it there for three photo assignments. ISO 4000 looks like 800 did on my vintage Nikon D2h of just a few years ago.
My newspaper has always been a Nikon shop. Though I was tempted by all the low-light Canon camera offerings of yore, management never blinked or gave my informed blathering much acknowledgement to make the switch. Now I’m glad they didn’t listen to me. This camera kicks! In the past, when I needed to spin the ISO dial up to, say, ISO 3200, I would often regret the decision later. Noise in digital files looks horrible.
This camera easily handled 4000, and 6400 ISO. I haven’t needed to go higher on the account that I don’t need 500th of a second for an environmental portrait.
Take a look at this shot I did of my daughter Brenna, right, and her friend Shea.
I shot it on my living room floor with just lamplight at 6400 ISO in RAW. I tweaked the color to get the skin tones right and made just basic Adobe CS5 RAW converter adjustments. If I had shot this with my D2h, it would have noise the size of gravel.
This camera will open many new low-light avenues for me and any other shooter lucky enough to get their hands on one. I had to go through Nikon Professional Services to find one. I’m told they are as elusive as unicorns.
The next thing for me to tackle is the whole DSLR video learning curve. I have shot video for five years. My Sony Z-1U and XDCAM EX-1 have served me well. Lately, I’ve been feeling I’m on the outside looking in as the Canon 5D Mk II has dominated the video gear spotlight.
Mostly, I suspect, for the look of the files coming out of these cameras. Shallow depth-of-field is all the rage, but at what cost? Audio is a DSLR camera’s Achilles heel. The contraptions DP’s and video producers are building to make these cameras work gives me pause.
So my toe dipping starts with the limited video capabilities of the D3s. It has been much maligned for not shooting in the higher resolution of 1920p that Canon cameras do. This doesn’t really concern me. The test files I’ve shot so far look better than anything that comes out of my XDCAM. The huge full-frame sensor in the D3s makes shooting in the dark a breeze. Its 720p file size is just about right for the web-based video storytelling I do. I have to compress the hell out of the videos I shoot, so the huge files from a 5D Mk II will only slow my edit down. I’m not planning to shoot any Hollywood movies, so I’m cool with the Nikon’s smaller file size for now. Of course, in a few months, my camera will probably be rendered obsolete by the rumored Nikon D4. Such is life of a techno geek.
If times have been tough for journalists who write, they’ve been no better for photojournalists. Magazines and newspapers have cut staff positions and freelance budgets. And the Internet has given rise to free or inexpensive substitutes, like Flickr and iStockphoto. A new startup launching this winter hopes it has come up with a way to solve some of the field’s financial problems, while giving world-class photojournalists a new level of freedom in telling stories and interacting with their audience.
The site, called Emphas.is, will be a platform that looks to the crowd to fund photographers’ work in dangerous places around the world. Similar to other crowdfunding sites like Spot.us or Kickstarter, photojournalists will post trip pitches with a fundraising goal. If that goal is reached, backers will get access to postings from the photographer about his or her experiences and the photographs and videos that are filed along the way. The photos will be initially available to only to backers, but photographers will be free to distribute them as they please — Emphas.is will not own the photographs.
“We’ve been badly hit and we need a solution,” says the site’s founder Karim Ben Khelifa about his work as a photojournalist. In the last 12 years, Khelifa has photographed stories in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somaliland, Kashmir, Kosovo, and other war-torn and dangerous places. His cofounder, Tina Ahrens, is also an established photojournalist. Khelifa’s reached out to elite photojournalists around the world to join him in launching the project. He says plenty of his colleagues are eager to give the idea a try. “We have the top of the top,” he says.
The platform is not a distribution tool meant to reach media outlets, but an experiment in storytelling that will let the photographer take on a more central role.
“The project comes out of frustration,” Khelifa told me. “Having a double-page [photo display] in Time or Vanity Fair…it doesn’t give me a point of view. You might have seen my photographs in Time magazine, but you don’t know me. And I don’t know you.”
And maybe that doesn’t make sense. Photojournalists, particularly war photographers, have a certain allure, one Khelida hopes is the basis for a business model. “We have a romanticism around our profession,” he says. “We realized that our work isn’t the end product, but how we got to it. This is what we expect to monetize.”
Khelifa says he’s often asked how he manages to move around a war zone, or join up with groups like the Taliban and photograph them from the inside. That backstory will be the draw, he says. Backers on Emphas.is will get to meet the photojournalist and then ride along virtually as they sneak through border check points and embed themselves with rebel groups. (Imagine getting a text message from the photog you’ve funded: I’m entering a dangerous region of Yemen, will check back in three days.) The experience will drive how the audience consumes the story.
Khelifa also says that it’s a good opportunity for photographers passionate about injustice in far-flung places. A crowd of funders can support a trip in a way only a few magazine photo editors could before.
But that doesn’t mean media isn’t interested the project. Khelifa is rounding up endorsements from top photo editors and directors at outlets like Time and agencies like the VII and Magnum. For them, the platform offers the potential for both more and lower-cost high-quality photography.
Once the site is launched, photographers will bank on the public pledging small amounts to back their ideas. Khelifa says one of their strategies for reaching those potential donors is through NGOs with large email lists. (NGOs themselves will only be allowed to fund 50 percent of any single project.)
For now, Khelifa has raised his own startup funding from a number angel investors. The next few months will be about getting the details in order, including finishing the platform and bringing on photographers. He hopes to see the site go live in January 2011.
Une superbe série autour des animaux par le photographe Johan Rosenmunthe, basé à Copenhague. Intitulé “The Isle of Human”, elle met en scène la superposition de la vie des animaux sauvages à la vie urbaine dans des situations et des lieux inattendus.
Newspaper websites historically have never been photo friendly. In the first five years of the active Internet, most photos were compressed to a postage-stamped size of around 15k -30k. They had to in those promising days of 28K modems, where one oversized graphic element would bring a homepage to a screeching halt.
I think many photojournalists gave the early Web a big thumbs down as a place to display their work. At my newspaper, us photojournalists’ collectively shrugged our shoulders when the “web guy” would say that he posted one of our photos online. Later requests on my part, to up the size on our online pictures, was met by one photo manager’s insistence that the images would be downloaded (stolen) or mass-produced across the internet. At that moment I gave up trying and, instead, embraced video as my online medium of choice.
Then, several years ago, Boston.com’s The Big Picture blog rocked my world when it launched. Here, finally, was a large format online gallery that showcased photojournalism the way it should be. The images were displayed in a format that also didn’t frustrate the viewer with slow page loads. The minute I saw it, I knew we had to have something like it for Spokesman.com. Unfortunately our web team was in middle of developing a ground-up overhaul of our CMS, and it never made the priority list.
While I waited, other newspapers around the country embraced the idea of increasing the format size of their photo galleries. The New York Times Lens Blog, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many others started big picture galleries.
A few months ago, Ryan Pitts, Spokesman.com’s online director, who was damned tired of my whining, came to me with a surprise. “ I built you a big picture gallery,” he said. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I took a look at what he built.
I was nothin’ but smiles the rest of the day. He gave me the keys, so to speak, to a beautiful Corvette. Behind the scenes, the gallery is really nothing more than a tool that I can access through our web-based Django admin page. I just upload my photos, paste in the captions, add some intro text and a headline, hit save and, drum roll please, instant big picture gallery. The nice thing is, because it is a web-based tool, I can create a gallery from anywhere in the field.
What I like best about our gallery is its clean design. For a long time I pushed the idea of a black background for photos, but our gallery is white and I am fine with that. In fact, I think it is easier on the eyes. I also like how I can pop in drop quotes in between the photos. I am pushing to have commenting on the gallery, which I hope will be enabled soon.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
"Basically the price of a night on the town!"
"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)