The news was dominated this week by images of the uprising in Kiev. Some hockey matches occurred in Sochi but it appears we prefer visuals of fire more than ice. Elsewhere, awards season continues and we look back at POYi winners and forward toward fashion photo finalists. We sympathize with a plucky photojournalist who must have thought he’d mastered drone photography until cops took his drone out of the sky. Also, from up on high, a lightning bolt hit the world’s tallest building and resulted in an unforgettable photo.
We wrap up a couple of analyses — the first on selfies and their variant uses in different cultures, and the second on the favored camera gear of award-winning photographers. We find a shooter who has tamed the internet, applaud the high-schoolers who’ve owned the yearbook portrait format and bow down to a photojournalist who, this week, showed the media how to do sensitive, in-depth multimedia reporting.
Lastly, we’re shocked to see some examples of Google Glass that aren’t totally nerdy. We are not shocked to see Sports Illustrated being salacious. But we are surprised to see them in zero gravity. For as long as airbrushed, fleshy titillation reigns in our media, a venture called Lean In will be pushing back, empowering women not disrobing them.
Daniel Berehulak Is POYi Freelance Photographer of the Year (Image above) ————————————————————————-
Last week, we mentioned the ongoing marathon of POYi judging. It’s still going (it ends on the 25th)! The biggest story to come out of the jurors’ cave this week was the awarding, on Monday, of Freelance Photographer of the Year to Daniel Berehulak.
Berehulak’s portfolio includes reporting on a clinic in Afghanistan for malnourished children, the rising heroin use in Afghanistan, South Africans’ mourning of Nelson Mandela, and the Hindu celebration of Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers.
To be clear, there’s a couple of POYi categories for a “photographer of the year.” On Sunday 9th February, the award in the ‘Newspaper Photographer of the Year’ category went to Barbara Davidson of the Los Angeles Times. Our congratulations to Davidson.
Photo: Daniel Berehulak. 8-month-old Samiullah, suffering from what doctors call Marasmus, another sign of advanced malnutrition in which the child’s face looks like that of a wrinkled old man because skin hangs on it so loosely, is held by his mother Islam Bibi, 15, from Marjah district, as they receive treatment on a plastic mattress in an administrative office due to overcrowding in the Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC) wards, at the Bost Hospital, a Medecins Sans Frontiers assisted hospital, on September 23, 2013 in Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
LOLcat-Loving ‘Shoppers Behind POYiCats Tumblr Reveal Themselves —————————————————————-
For the last two award seasons, the photojournalism industry watched the POYi judging with baited breath, listening raptly for those faceless voices on the livestream to break up their chorus of “OUTs” with the occasional “IN.” But as each category’s winners was officially announced, there was another website that kept our attention, breaking up the seriousness of the heavy news photos: POYi Cats.
The site, which exists as a seasonally-updated Tumblr page, photoshops relevant images of cats and kittens onto winning POYi and CPOY photos, adding the perfect amount of cute and absurd. Until this week, the creators of the fan-favorite site have been a mystery. Now, according to a post on the site, the cats are “out of the bag” – Amy Stroth, a recent grad of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, and recent Missouri grad student Timmy Huynh have been curating the popular site for the last two years.
To these young journalists, we have one thing to say: thank you for your dedicated service, and keep up the good work. Now let’s hope their meme-ability will get them a couple of good jobs!
Hyères Fashion and Photography Festival Announces 10 Finalists ————————————————————–
The Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères is an outlier on the photo-festival circuit. Unlike most other fashion events, there’s not a runway in sight. Add to that couture photography’s inherent esotericism and you’re forgiven for wondering what could possibly be going on. Well, from looking at the 10 photographer finalists announced recently, Hyères is uncovering some great talent.
Making the list are Anna Grzelewska (Poland); Osma Harvilahti (Finland); Arnaud Lajeunie (France); Orianne Lopes (France); Birthe Piontek Germany/Canada); Virginie Rebetez (Switzerland); Marie Rime (Switzerland); Marleen Sleeuwits (Netherland); Charlotte Tanguy (France); and Lorenzo Vitturi (Italy/UK). Many of these names are new to us.
Given that the fashion world is all about the fine details, it should be no surprise that these (predominantly) studio-based photographers are playing with light, color, form and line in intelligent ways. Here’s the best single page for a view of images by the ten.
The Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyères begins next April the 25th at Villa Noailles, with featured exhibitions of Kenzo, Man Ray and Steve Hiett’s photographs. Follow updates on their Tumblr.
Photo: Birthe Piontek
Jaws dropped this week as stunning images of serious violence in the center of Kiev hit news feeds. There were comparisons to scenes in Les Miserables of Parisian barricades, and to Hieronymus Bosch and Bruegel.
Business Insider, Talking Points Memo, Buzzfeed, HuffPo and Mashable all published galleries — “listicle” versions of the uprising with absent or lazy captions that cast events as apocalyptic before all other things. Over at Politico, Sarah Kendzior was incensed, slamming the media’s clickbait presentations of images as pornographic.
“Unfortunately,” writes Kendzior, “the answer to the activist’s question of ‘why’ is ignored in a clickbait competition where a picture is worth zero words. The only ‘wh-‘ word that matters is ‘whoa’: Look at the fire, the water, the bullets, the blood. Look, but do not listen. Look inward, at the movie you watched that looked like Ukraine, at the painting you saw that looked like Ukraine. Look at Ukraine without seeing Ukraine.”
The disaster porn debate resurfaces with each and every skirmish. Digital news networks won’t allow us not to experience the dramatic pixels. Instead of being drawn into the debate, we’d prefer just to point you in the direction of some images we appreciated. As well as encouraging you to check out our feature of Brendan Hoffman’s photographs, we’d like to take this chance to name the photographers who are working in those dangerous conditions.
On Instagram, we followed Anastasia Taylor-Lind and Sergey Ponomarev. We also ran across Dima Tolkachov’s Flickr. Portraits of protesters by Valentina Piccinni and Jean-Marc Caimi on NBC also impressed us.
Check out this before and after slider by the Wall Street Journal.
Photo: Before and after in Kiev’s Independence Square. Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images; Right: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg News.
Alongside Past Victims, Photog Nina Berman Revisits Dozier Boys School ———————————————————————-
In 2013, investigators exhumed remains on the campus of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, a reform school in Florida which had been shut down in 2011. After almost a century of operation, 98 deaths were confirmed – many of whom were young black males.
Shortly before a hearing in Tallahassee regarding evidence discovered at the site, photographer Nina Berman followed five former students – now grown men – back to the school grounds to document their reactions to the place that had haunted them since their adolescence.
In a special report for Mother Jones, Berman and reporter Michael Mechanic use video, photos, and audio interviews to recreate the terrifying experiences of these men, weaving a chilling story of racism and abuse that still manages to find some hope in the overgrown remains of those finally-empty walls.
Boffins Study Instagram to Fathom Different Cultural Uses of the Selfie ———————————————————————–
There are nearly 80 million photos on Instagram tagged #selfie. How many millions (billions?) more elsewhere. What does they all mean? What does it all mean?
Well, a team of code-writing data-academics have launched Selfiecity, a project that analyzes Instagram data for visual cues like head position, emotional expression, gender and age. Thus far, Selfiecity has looked at selfies from New York, Berlin, Bangkok, Moscow and Sao Paolo to determine if there are any cultural differences. And, guess what? There are. In Sao Paulo, on average women tilt their heads to 16.9 degrees whereas in NYC, women only tilt their head to 11 degrees.
Also, women are more likely to tilt their heads in photos, with the average amount of head tilt in women being 150 percent higher than in men. For the fuller picture, visit SelfieCity, check out the data and see how Liz Stinson, for WIRED parsed info from the fantastic infographics.
It’s clear that a big part of our brave new world will be carried aloft by drones, but the legal ramifications of their use remains fuzzy. Case in point: photographer Pedro Rivera’s lawsuit against the Hartford City Police Department in Connecticut. At the beginning of the month, Hartford Police ordered Rivera to ground his drone after they spotted him using it to photograph the scene of a fatal accident. Although he was shooting on his own time, police called his employers at local news station WFSB, who suspended him for a week.
Rivera’s lawsuit aims to recoup the wages he lost in his suspension, and related damages. Police have argued that the use of drones poses a risk to the safety of officers, as well as citizens’ privacy. There is also the question, in a situation like this one – where bodies were still in the vehicle (although they weren’t visible) – of what rights of privacy exist for the deceased or their relatives.
The FAA, who are investigating the event, state rather vaguely in their regulations that drones can’t be used for commercial purposes – the police thought Rivera was shooting for his news station, in violation of the rule, while he maintains he wasn’t. In any case, the law allows for photography of anything clearly visible in a public space, so the argument by law enforcement is really about the means Rivera used to take the pictures. However the lawsuit turns out, it’s clear the implications go beyond photographers and hobbyists – the debate has just begun, and already at issue is the public’s right to observe what happens in their public spaces.
Photo: AP/Pedro Rivera. Aftermath of an incident in which a car crashed into a building in Hartford, Connecticut on February 1st, 2014. Taken by a camera mounted on a drone. On February 18th, Pedro Rivera filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Hartford police officers violated his rights by demanding he stop using the aircraft to record images of the wreck.
Korean High Schoolers Concept and Stage the Best Yearbook Pics Ever ——————————————————————-
It usually takes a couple of decades before you can look back at your school year book and not cringe. After 20 years or so, irony beats out the embarrassment and you’re able to admit to that sweater.
These Korean high school kids won’t have to hide from their yearbook pictures. They were given complete freedom to dress up, act out and goof around. The results have gone viral and are already legend. There’s no hiding from these even if they wanted.
Image source: Kotaku
Maybe Google Glass Can Look Like Not the Dorkiest Thing? ———————————————————-
The fashionistas forever sneering at Silicon Valley’s attempts to make wearable tech not the most dorky thing in the room might have to quiet down. Elizabeth Weinberg’s latest lifestyle-fashion-product shots might just have convinced us it is possible for Google Glass to not look like a douchey slimline Bluetooth.
Google are really trying.
Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg
We’re firm believers that when it comes to making a good picture, it’s always the photographer that matters most, not the camera. At the same time, there’s no shame in geeking out on gear occasionally.
Case in point; we found it quite fun to parse through the recent graphic designed by the site hastalosmegapixeles.com, which shows exactly what brands and models of camera the World Press Photo award-winners used to make their images.
In terms of brand, there were no surprises. Canon is the clear winner with 58 percent of the market share. Nikon was a distant second with 28 percent. Leica, Sony and Mamiya (a well known medium format brand) all held onto single digit shares.
The most used camera is the Canon 1DX, and right behind it are the Canon 5D Mark II and III. The top Nikon cameras were the D4, D700 and D800.
There’s been some debate about whether iPhones and mirrorless cameras might unseat single-lens reflex cameras eventually, but the graph proves that amongst photojournalists, that’s not going to happen any time soon. According to the graph, 88 percent of the award-winning photographers were made with the trusty SLRs.
Imagemaker and Provocateur Clayton Cubitt Has Tamed the Internets —————————————————————–
Clayton Cubitt appears to be one of the hardest working photographers in the business. It helps that everything he does he puts out online. We at Raw File have appreciated the steady flow of content we’ve seen over his Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts.
Ostensibly, Cubitt makes his living as a still photographer on high-end fashion and commercial shoots. But as Kim Boekbinder puts it in the intro to her excellent interview with Cubitt published on Medium, “he’s not just a photographer posting photos, he’s a visual artist using the internet as both a means of distribution and an integral part of the art, evolving along with, and responding to, the ever changing nature of the internet.”
Cubitt covers viral vids, playing with social media policy guidelines, making email special and wonders if profit-sharing platforms that benefit content creators might emerge in the future.
Most of all we love hearing about how in post-Katrina Louisiana the Internet + Community = A new house for his mom.
“I launched a blog called Operation Eden,” says Cubitt, “which documented the destruction, and became a rallying place for relief efforts, and aid to both my family and to the larger community. In retrospect it also acted as a sort of primitive Kickstarter. It was overwhelming. Volunteers rebuilt my mom’s home, and then stuck around and built dozens more for her community. Tractor trailers full of relief supplies arrived from all over the world. People stayed for months, camped out in tents, just to help. Volunteers from all around the world visited my mom’s little bayou community and made a pilgrimage to her house just to see if she was alright. The government wasn’t doing this. The old media wasn’t doing this. This was all the Internet.”
We recommend the read.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Shot in Simulated Zero Gravity ——————————————————————
Yes, we sent @KateUpton to SPACE!
Here’s what we have to say about Kate Upton’s recent shoot in zero gravity for Sports Illustrated 2014 swimsuit issue; well done to her.
We’re guessing it’s incredibly uncomfortable to model while riding in a Boeing 727 that’s descending fast enough to create 20-30 seconds of weightlessness. Many of us would have a difficult time keeping our lunch down in that situation, so we can only guess how hard it was to pose for the camera and not let on that all of sudden gravity is gone. Kudos to Kate for making it look easy.
It’s no secret that stock images are often uninventive and stereotypical, and that includes the outdated way they can represent the lives of women. Getty Images has teamed up with Leanin.org to address this issue, with the Lean In Collection, a new library of more than 2,500 photographs meant to represent a wider slice of female life.
Selected by a four-person team at Getty Images by their director of visual trends Pam Grossman, these stock photos feature women in professional and leadership roles. The team – consisting of three women and one man – chose images that showed a variety of ages, races, family arrangements, and career paths, as well as including males performing “non-traditional” roles like caring for kids or cooking.
Staging more realistic photos is all well and good, but it remains to be seen whether Lean In will grab marketshare and in so doing empower women and correct the stereotypes. Read more here.
Skyscrapers easily invite comparisons to the tower of Babel, as signs of human hubris. They also invite lightning, as this picture of a bolt striking the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, demonstrates in biblical fashion. The epic picture was taken on Feb 12 across from Dubai’s financial district by photographer Michael Shainblum.
At more than 2,700 feet tall, Burj Khalifa is basically the world’s biggest lightning rod. The bolt in the picture backlights a row of construction cranes that continue to carry out Dubai’s insane growth. Of course, there are other examples of glorious photos of skyscrapers lit by a bolt from above, but for sky-cracking apocalypse porn, it doesn’t get much more satisfying that this.
Shainblum apparently spent four hours shooting in the rain before coming away with the shot, and it almost didn’t happen. An especially strong cloudburst knocked out one of the two cameras he and his partner were using to take time lapse footage of the skyline. Luckily, his surviving camera managed to snap a frame of the marvelous bolt from the heavens.