“I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.” – James Nachtwey
Associated Press Photojournalist Jacquelyn Martin captured this image of 20 year old Nicholas Simmons in Washington DC a few days into the new year and almost two weeks after he left his parent’s home in Greece, NY. Shot on January 4, Martin’s image ran in USA Today in part of a gallery featuring images of the recent East Coast cold snap. After missing for almost two weeks someone close to the Simmons family saw the feature in last Saturday’s paper and recognized Nicholas. Simmons has since been admitted to a DC hospital where his father was able to reconnect with him. While I am sure there is much more to this story, this has struck as living up to the best ambitions of photography and photojournalism. There is no question there was a bit of good luck was at work. I can only speculate the number of images and assignments that Martin must have shot on this day, but somehow Nicholas made it into the edit and a photo editor at the USA Today decided this was the image to run. It is possible that having survived the edit Nicolas will survive this ordeal.
I often think of the power of Photojournalism in an international context, of photojournalists in dangerous places recording the history that would otherwise go unseen, but this is only one component of the medium. Martin was covering the community she lives and works in. For her, this happened pretty close to home, and affirms that all news is local news. Does Photography and Photojournalism make a difference, does it really save lives? Clearly it does, and I expect the Simmons family will be forever grateful to Martin and her photograph.
For however long the link is active, here is the gallery Martin’s image of Nicholas Simmons appeared in:
Winter Storm Hits the Northeast
The story as I read it on Gawker:
Family Finds Missing Son in USA Today Photo
Photography Can Change the World
Two days ago, National Geographic launched a new page dedicated to the photography and photographers who’ve shaped the magazine. In one of the first posts, this video, The Photographers on Photography, some of the best recognized names in photojournalism, and perhaps least recognized faces, speak to the power, capacity and responsibility of photography. If you’ve ever wondered why or how a photographer can put themselves in harm’s way, or continue to shoot when a scene turns to something less savory; this short video addresses many of those questions.
The Editors at Proof describe Proof as National Geographic’s new online photography experience. Launched to engage ongoing conversations about photography, art, and journalism. In addition to featuring selections from the magazine and other publications, books, and galleries, this site will offer new avenues for our audience to get a behind-the-scenes look at the National Geographic storytelling process.
The Video: The Photographers on Photography
The Web Site: National Geographic Proof
The International Center for Photography recently honoured Associated Press Photojournalist David Guttenfelder as an Infinity Award recipient for his work in North Korea. With all the recent news of North Korea’s posturing, it is easy to think that the hermited nation might have more in common with the land Oz than it does with it’s neighbours or others in the international community, but Guttenfelder’s photos reveal a degree of what passes as day to day normalcy. This is the revealing power of photography, showing us not only the things that divide and horrify us, but the similarities we share that may be otherwise hidden by fear, bureaucracy or secrecy. This is 12 minutes worth watching. This video was produced by Media Storm and was found at Alan Taylor’s In Focus blog at The Atlantic. Click either the image above, or the link below to watch the video.
Beyond the images of North Korea, Guttenfelder speaks a little of his career and time spent in Africa and Afghanistan as a photojournalist with the Associated Press. Guttenfelder comes across as humble, thoughtful and unphased by the intensity of his experiences. He talks about thinking of himself in a certain way after a decade of photographing conflict and violence and how that changed with an assignment to cover a three day reunion of families divided for 50 years by the Korean Conflict and how that pushed and drove his interest to look deeper into the North. This is another great power of photography, it is transformative. Photography changes us, our perspective, our understanding, and how we see others. It has an indelible affect on not only the audience but also the subject and the photographer forever changed by the events seen through the lens.
A Talk With AP Photographer David Guttenfelder – In Focus – The Atlantic.
International Center For Photography
More about the ICP Infinity awards including videos:
ICP Infinity Awards 2013
A few weeks ago I posted a link and a video about famed photojournalist Steve McCurry and how he chose to shoot the last roll of Kodachrome to come out of Kodak. Today I want to share the gallery. For a lot of photographers, the content captured on this roll might represent months, years or even decades of work, but for McCurry, among the most experienced, seasoned and professionally accomplished in the industry he managed to to capture this collection on one roll. It is impressive regardless of how many test shots he made with his DSLR.
I would like to say that this is the standard for photojournalism, even creative content at large, but unfortunately I don’t believe it is anymore. While I believe that photography, enabled by an infinite number of new tools, has the capacity to be more creative than ever before, there is a lot of work seeing the light of day that leaves me wanting for something more, something better. Content has to be compelling on it’s own. Creative content is everywhere we look, but good content, great content is more rarefied, it is the product of skill and, in many cases, hard won experience. The standard for content should be set at this level, however unattainable, not by what is affordable, what is easy or what is accessible. McCurry’s work is the work of a professional, of a creative able to make a living and succeed because others recognized value in his content.
Please have a look at the complete gallery:
Steve McCurry: The Last Roll of Kodachrome
What a fantastic find this morning on Twitter; Photojournalist Steve McCurry shooting the last roll of Kodachrome featuring faces in New York, Istanbul and India. While I will let the video, and McCurry himself, tell the story of this project I will say this is a fitting send off to a film that set the standard for decades and decades. I am ashamed to say that I have never shot a roll of Kodachrome, and I never will. By the time I was getting into photography I was largely using whatever film I could afford. I do feel that I have missed out on something special and as McCurry describes having nearly one million Kodachrome slides in his archive and their durability I wonder about the legacy and staying power of our digital archives. Somehow jpg files on a hard drive or burned to a DVD lack a certain magic. Somewhere in one of my closest is a slide case with a few hundred Kodachrome slides shot by my father on a camera identical to the camera I learned to shoot on. At some point I will have to get organized to digitize these slides before I loose the option and loose that part of my childhood.
Kodachrome isn’t just an element of our popular culture, but it was a mechanism used to record what would become our history, and indeed it did. Author Neil Sheenan suggests that “Photographs are the images of history rescued from the oblivion of mortality” and I agree. I believe that our understanding of the last one hundred years will be shaped by largely what we see in photographs the way the previous one hundred years is largely understood by what was read and perhaps the next one hundred years will in turn be understood through what we watch. Perhaps this National Geographic video is a perfect segue between these mediums.
Have a watch.
Another link I feel is worth a mention came to me from the American Photo Magazine Tumblr Blog featuring their picks for the best photo books of 2012
American Photo has also included a list of E Books with Getty Image’s Year In Focus at the top of the list. This is Getty’s 2012 showcase of highlights in photojournalism, from the Arab Spring to royal weddings and sports events and is available FREE! at iTunes. Definitely worth a look.
A few weeks ago a North Africa-based friend and former newspaper colleague shared a story about developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the rise of the M23 Movement reputedly funded by Rwanda. This is a rebel militia group waging attacks on government forces and sending civilians into chaos. This post isn’t to report this story only to share some photos. Suffice to say this is a continuation of a conflict that goes back at least 16 years with an immeasurable impact on local populations while involving neighbouring countries and very well funded yet ineffectual UN Peace Keepers.
One of the great crimes, given the experiences of the 20th century, is that in the 21st century this type of conflict persists while millions of civilians are displaced, made refugee or fall victim as collateral damage. Why is it important to share these images collected by Allan Taylor in his In Focus Gallery at the Atlantic? It is because photography can save lives, change minds and direct into action those capable of making the difference. Have a look at the images in this gallery and imagine that it’s your neighbourhood under siege, and your neighbours on the move. Those that direct these acts may be less brazen if they know the world is watching. Photojournalists around the globe take huge risks sharing stories from places of chaos to ensure the story is told and to ensure those lives victim to indiscriminate or malicious violence continue to have meaning.
The Atlantic In Focus Gallery
It is hard for me to believe these images were shot more than four years ago. It is too cliche to say that it was another lifetime, but that is what it feels like. Nope, these images and the 2008 election fall within the time line of my career in photography. It is fair to say that career has had some ups and downs and has required some reinvention along the way, but what career conceived in the 21st Century does not? These images, shot days or a few weeks apart, though in the same room, were among the last time I found myself in a true media scrum and in looking back it is also fair to say that there is something to be missed, but a lot that is better behind me.
I enjoy picking up a rare editorial shift from time to time, and I am not ashamed to admit how much it pleases me to see my work printed as so much of my work ends up on line. This is one of ways in which the internet has changed the industry, technology has enabled a ‘deomcratization” of the medium but has also created an infinite number of outlets for the presentation, broadcast and publication of photos.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the right and Liberal Candidate Stephane Dion on the left revel such different messages in these photos, but by this point, the election was largely over with the outcome fairly predicted by pundits and the media. Ironically both the Prime Minister and Dion had been long accused of being soft of personalty offering little for people to get excited about, so it is interesting to look at what each of them suggest. The Prime Minister clearly secure in his predicted victory is stayed and unemotional at the podium separated from his constituents and his supporters versus Stephane Dion with closed ranks around him passionately and energetically rallying support for a losing battle. In the days following the election, I often wondered if Canada had seen the Liberal leader the way we had in that ballroom if the Liberal Party would have been more successful. Perhaps reinvention was just in the cards for Dion as it was for me.
So very cool to come across this video today about celebrated photojournalist Steve McCurry shooting the 2013 Pirelli Calendar in Rio at Nikon Rumors. The Pirelli calendar is pure school boy fantasy and is about as far from the work McCurry is known for as imaginable and yet it seems long overdue. McCurry is a master portraitist and looks to be taking the famously risque calendar in a decidedly new direction while celebrating the women he’s photographing. I will let McCurry explain in the video.
Never commercially available, The Pirelli calendar may be the most coveted “girly” calendar in the world, distributed only to Pirelli clients and dealers with few, if any, made publicly available. Over the years, however, there have been several books and more than a few magazine articles fueling the notoriety. What sets this Pirelli model apart from drug store bikini calendars is high production values featuring iconic locations, creative art direction, and truly great photography. Some of the better known photographers who’ve shot the calendar over the years include Annie Liebovitz, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Bruce Webber, Terry Richardson and, most recently, Steve McCurry.
I could go on and on; just watch the video (It’s safe for work!) When you are done with the first video, have a look at the promo piece.
So much in the hopper right now ahead of this weekend’s 2012 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and just a week out from this year’s BC Bike Race. I have been very excited to put together a team of photographers to shoot the ‘Scotia Half’ this year, regularly regarded as among the most scenic Half Marathons in Canada and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of great images from our team, perhaps as many as 18,000 images, which will see post production and upload next week. Wow, it will be interesting to see the final numbers. Get ready SumgMug!
As last summer was coming to an end I was asked to shoot the 2011 RBC Whistler GranFondo and this is one of the images shot that morning in September from the back of a motorcycle on the Upper Levels Highway above West Vancouver. My buddy Chris and I spent a huge day with the event shooting close to 4000 images between us in the period of about 16 hours. It was an intense day, but what can I say, I love shooting events, and I love shooting cycling. Sunday is going to be epic and I am looking forward to a team photo at the start line at UBC early Sunday morning.
The weekend is almost on us, events are everywhere, cycling, running, farmer’s markets, fairs and parades, these are the stock and trade of staff shooters covering weekend shifts across North America, these are where features are made, faces found and stories are witnessed. I hope you find something to shoot this weekend, your latest portfolio piece is out there.
Every photographer or photojournalist has had assignments they seem to remember with perfect clarity whether it was last month, last year or a lifetime ago. I remember my time with Danny Casper with a clarity that is absent when I think of other assignments shot for the dozen or so different newspapers I have contributed to at one time or another. I remember the state of his poverty-worn home, a trailer as old as he, his story of what happened to him as a truck driver when he returned from his military tour in Vietnam. I remember his acute sensitivity to light as a result of the medication he was prescribed to treat cancer. I remember being in his trailer and having to dial up the ISO to 1600 on my Nikon D1H, a camera not known for it’s capacity in low light. I remember shooting this image of Danny in his doorway on my way out, camera still set at 1600 at f2.8. It was lucky I didn’t end up with something blown out and unusable. I look at this image, one that hangs on my wall ten years later, and I see the perfect portrait subject, unaware of the camera and totally unconscious of his appearance. This remains one of my favourite images from my summer in Spokane at the Spokesman-Review in 2002 and remains my favourite of the portraits I have shot. No mater how strong technically or creatively appealing any portrait since, Danny Casper is the bar by which I measure any portrait I make and at the worst of times Danny Casper is the mirror in which I see myself in 20 years wondering what has become of my life.