Photographer Carol Guzy of ZUMA Press has won the 2018 Robert Capa Gold Medal Award for her reportage about the effects of the war against ISIS on the civilian population of Mosul. The Overseas Press Club announced the news yesterday. Reuters photographers Carlos Garcia Rawlins and Carlos Barria won the Olivier Rebbot Award, and Kevin Frayer of Getty Images won the Feature Photography award.
The Robert Capa Gold Medal is awarded annually for the best published photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise. Judges cited Guzy for her “intimate, sensitive and haunting coverage of the innocents we often do not see reflected in images from amid the gore of war time.” A former Washington Post staff photographer, Guzy has won four Pulitzer Prizes, three NPPA Newspaper Photographer of the Year awards, and numerous other photojournalism prizes.
The Olivier Rebbot Award, for best photographic news reporting from abroad in any medium, went to Garcia Rawlins and Barria for their images showing the political violence in Venezuela. Judges said, “The potent and strikingly violent images invoked an auditory response from the jury.”
Frayer won the Feature Photography award for his coverage of the desperate exodus of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. Judges described Frayer’s work as “One of the most comprehensive picture packages of the year.”
Judges gave citations—effectively runner-up awards—in all three categories. Ivor Prickett was the citation winner for the Robert Capa Gold Medal award; Reuters photographers Mohammad Ponir Hossain, Danish Siddiqui, Hannah McKay, Damir Sagolj and Cathal McNaughton won a citation for the Olivier Rebbot Award; and Meredith Kohut won a citation for the Feature Photography Award.
Jurors for the Overseas Press Club photography awards were photographers Adrees Latif (Reuters), Yunghi Kim (freelance), and William Snyder (Rochester Institute of Technology); Sandy Ciric, director of photography at Getty Images News and James Collins of NBCnews.com.
The first issue of PDN was published in 1980. It was a simpler time, when the world worried about nuclear annihilation, MTV was a year away from showing its first music video and Instagram’s founder had yet to be born.
To reconnect with our history and the history of our photographic tools, we descended into the dusty catacombs of the PDN archives, brushed away the cobwebs* and found some of those early issues to bring you a look at what was considered cutting edge at the time. Our scans make for an interesting and, we hope, entertaining look at older photo technology and the marketing thereof.
This installment dates back to January 1985, when people were apparently casting about for reasons to own a computer. (For a larger view, open the image in a new tab.)
*In truth, most of our old issues are neatly arranged on a shelf in a brightly-lit conference room.
In drought-stricken Cape Town, we’ve been living with just 50 liters of water per person per day since the beginning of the year. That’s 13.2 gallons. It doesn’t go far when you think about how often you turn on the faucet each day for drinking, cleaning, flushing toilets, showering, washing dishes, and doing laundry.
Like many households, we’ve shut off the water supply to the toilet and religiously collect our ‘grey water’ to refill the cistern instead. It’s an elaborate dance—siphoning drainage from the washing machine, scooping water out of sink basins, standing in a bucket to catch runoff from painfully brief showers… The apartment is littered with buckets, plastic cups, and tubs for collecting and moving water. We shower less. I schedule messy activities and workouts for shower days. We wear our clothes more often. The term ‘droughtfit’ has emerged—when you wear the same clothes until it’s really necessary to wash them.
But we’re managing. It’s amazing how easily we can change behavior when necessary. Hopes are high in Cape Town that we’ll make it through this year without reckoning with Day Zero—the day the city will shut off the municipal water supply. Earlier this year Day Zero was predicted to come in mid-April, but with drastic savings, we should make it to winter (July) when our fate will depend on good rains finally coming.
Still, worrying about water is a serious mental load. I woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks back envisioning this self-portrait: me in our grey water, floating amid the laundry drainage, the leftover shower water, the toothpaste spit, and the hand-wash runoff. It’s a grim take on those ‘milk bath‘ photos featured on the photo blogs.
Gross. But still a little beautiful. Stressful and a little hopeful, too.
On a technical note, it took about an hour to put this setup together, and, of course, I scheduled the shoot to coincide with my shower day to avoid wasting any unnecessary water. The camera is mounted on a tripod, balanced precariously on the rim of the bathtub (tripod legs cloned out). A camera-mounted flash bounced off the corner of the ceiling and triggered an off-camera flash bounced off the opposite corner. Self-timer alone wouldn’t work here, given the complexity. So I used Trigger Trap connected to my iPhone to set up a sound trigger. I set the camera to a two-second self-timer, so the shutter was voice activated, but I had time to close my mouth before the picture. I taped the phone to the camera with some gaffer tape. Amazingly, no electronics fell in the tub!
Morgan Trimble is a freelance photographer and writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. You can follow her work on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This post has been republished with the author’s permission.
Susan Sontag was deliberately provocative when she coupled photography with violence. There is, she wrote in the essay ‘In Plato’s Cave’ (1977), ‘something predatory in the act of taking a picture’. She pointed out that we speak casually about ‘loading’ and ‘aiming’ a camera: ‘Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder.’ Sontag knew that she was using hyperbole, prodding her readers to consider the seizing of someone else’s identity that is implicit in each portrait that is shot.
But it is decidedly less of an exaggeration to couple violence with one particular photographic technology: flash. From the earliest decades of flash photography, when limelight or magnesium were used to illuminate darkness, flash was associated with explosive unpredictability. Even after Johannes Gaedicke and Adolf Miethe invented a far more reliable compound – flash powder – in 1887, accidents were commonplace, maiming and injuring photographers. Not until flash bulbs were introduced around 1930 did the means for producing sudden blasts of artificial light become easier and more dependable, and this increased with the advent of the Speedlite and other electronic flash guns.
‘Flash gun’ – that nomenclature takes us full circle, since some of the early contraptions for igniting flash powder were indeed designed to look very like a revolver. The name, and the linkage of violence and weaponry, stuck. The allusion is clear in the black humour of the words that decorate some military gun barrels: ‘SMILE. WAIT FOR FLASH.’ Weaponry and photography work in consort in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Foreign Correspondent (1940), in which a man posing as a news photographer kills a central European chancellor with a pistol fired at the same moment as he sets off his flash.
Photographic flash is, however, frequently aggressive in its own right. If one is close to it, one’s eyes are startled into temporary blindness, and indeed the photographer is likely to be as dazzled as the subject. The eruption of flash disorients. Numerous early accounts of flash photography retell how it startled bystanders and horses; jokes were told about how police could confuse its effects with those of Fenian dynamiters. The disorientation is used to great effect near the end of Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), where Jeff (played by James Stewart) turns his flash gun on his attacker, Lars Thorwald, flaring the bulb in his face. Hitchcock’s dramatic use of reverse perspective means that we experience the shot both from behind the lens, and also as if it were going off in Thorwald’s – and our – eyes. The screen is momentarily flooded with the red of the shocked retina.
In addition to its somatic repercussions, flash can also enact a form of ethical violence. What, if anything, might justify flash’s unexpected interruption into daily lives? This is a question that has exercised documentary photographers since the mid-20th century. Among those who worked for the Farm Security Administration during the Depression in the United States, Dorothea Lange saw its use as invasive, and Ben Shahn expressed his doubts – both about photographing someone else’s private space, and about flash’s aesthetics. ‘When some of the people came in and began to use flash I thought it was immoral,’ he said. ‘You know, you come into a sharecropper’s cabin and it’s dark. But a flash destroyed that darkness.’ His dislike of artificial illumination was to be echoed by art photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and André Kertész, who firmly adhered to the doctrine of using only available light. To use flash, said Cartier-Bresson, was ‘impolite … like coming to a concert with a pistol in your hand’.
This aesthetic purism was in part determined by the association of flash photography with newsmen and commercial work. The introduction of the flash bulb greatly enhanced the ability of press photographers to work at night, facilitating the documentation of crimes committed under the cover of darkness. Flash was increasingly used by police forces for detective work, too. No one more famously brought flash and crime together than the man known as Weegee, working in mid-20th-century New York to record murders, accidents and arrests. ‘A photographer is a hunter with a camera,’ he said, anticipating Sontag.
Nowhere has this determined intrusiveness been more apparent than in the work of paparazzi. Popping flash bulbs has become visual shorthand for the achievement of fame or notoriety. This firing-off of a barrage of light can be a terrifying onslaught: think of King Kong – captured, brought to New York City, exhibited on stage, and then startled into destructive rage by newspaper photographers. Paparazzi flash has come to equal unwelcome exposure, and paparazzi themselves have come to exemplify the worst excesses of the exploitative and invasive photographer.
Yet even though the violence that is caused, or recorded, by flash photography might be cruel, unpleasant or shocking, we should note a paradox. Flash – particularly high-speed flash – can find a terrible beauty in destruction. The strobe light that the pioneering scientific photographer Harold Edgerton used to show a bullet piercing a playing card, an apple and a row of inflated balloons creates a display of shredded material that no human eye could ever see. Similarly, the Israeli-born artist Ori Gersht’s videos and photographs depict bullets shattering freeze-dried flowers and fruits that have been assembled to look like Dutch Golden Age still-lifes, and dispersing them into shards: the images bring out the inherent fragility of natural objects.
But if Gersht’s images, like so many of the Dutch paintings that he references, imply a memento mori message, the beauty vanishes when we are confronted with irrevocable physical violence. One of the most startling images in the handbook Flash Photography (1947) by the African American Gordon Parks shows the execution of a collaborator by a French firing squad in November 1944. Kneeling, tied to a post, a large handkerchief masking his face, at the back of his neck is a blur of precipitated matter. Parks’s caption is laconic: ‘One bulb was used on the camera. The photographer’s flash was well-timed to catch flesh and clothing as bullets tore them from the body.’ Instrument of aggression, and facilitator of its photographic capturing, the history of flash photography is disconcertingly inseparable from violence.
Photographer Kristen Angelo, who specializes in shooting for editorial and commercial clients in the cannabis industry, says Instagram was a key tool for building her business and marketing her photography. Using hashtags such as #cannabis and #cannabisculture, she identified potential clients, and got her work in front of them. That led to her first assignments with cannabis trade and culture magazines. She continues to use IG to build her brand and attract clients. “I would say that 90 percent of my connections evolved through Instagram,” says Angelo, who has about 4,500 followers.
Here are three pieces of advice from Angelo for building a following and attracting clients on Instagram:
1. Post new content regularly and maintain consistency with the type/style of work you share. When I first launched my Instagram, I posted new content about five times a day. Now I usually post content twice a day—a.m. and p.m.
2. Treat Instagram as an extension of your website portfolio. Share only your best work. Be a storyteller. No food, no pets, no memes, no smartphone snapshots, no political opinions, no drama.
3. Respond to comments and direct messages in a timely manner, and always with kindness and respect. And set the direct message feature to engage with accounts that might benefit from your work. Ask them if they’re interested in sharing your work with their [followers].
Syrian photographer Mohamed Alragheb has won the $120,000 Grand Prize in the seventh annual Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards (HIPA). The photographer was unable to attend the awards due to the ongoing hostilities in Syria. However, one of the subjects of the photograph, fellow photojournalist Abd Alkader Habak, received the prize on his behalf, and was given a special merit award for an extraordinary act of bravery.
The events that lead to the photograph unfolded April 2017, in the Rashideen neighborhood in Western Aleppo. Both Habak and Alragheb were documenting a people exchange down a peace corridor that had been allowed under ceasefire, when a massive explosion occurred near the two photojournalists. Habak returned four times to the scene of the explosion to remove injured parties as a result of this car bomb. In the winning image, Habak is seen running away from a recently exploded car carrying a severely injured child, his camera still hanging about his neck.
Communicating directly to PDN from Syria, Alragheb had this reaction to winning the Grand Prize. “First of all, I would like to thank the patrons of HIPA for the chance to showcase my photograph as a winner of this competition to the rest of the world. This award can be considered one of the biggest milestones in my life, despite my young age.”
On the impact of the award he said: “I hope that my win will afford me more chances and opportunities in photography and that I will continue to seek success in all avenues of the artform. On asking about his brave colleague he said “I would like to say that Alkader Habak represents a true Syrian revolutionary with his strong touch of humanity and his determination and drive to help others in need.”
Asked how the prize will affect him personally day to day, the winner stated that, “It will drive me to capture more powerful photographs and improve my skills as a photographer in the difficult circumstances we are currently experiencing in Syria”.
The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award was established by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, in 2011. The theme of the 2019 Awards will be “Hope”.
Judges for this year’s competition included Khalil Hamra, AP photographer; Randy Olson, Documentary Photographer; Ami Vitale, photographer, writer and filmmaker; David Alan Harvey, photographer and editor; Ed Kashi, photojournalist and filmmaker; Gunther Wegner, founder of LRTimelapse; Jean-Francois Leroy, photojournalist; Peter Bill, time-lapse creator.
The recent toppling of a string of powerful figures for sexual abuse and harassment raises the question of how these people managed to conceal their behavior so long, in some instances after abusing hundreds of victims.
Why didn’t the victims speak up? And why, when they did, was justice so slow?
Clearly, there’s a powerful human instinct to ignore or cover-up allegations of this sort, whether they appear in politics, entertainment, sports, academia or media.
The art world isn’t immune.
Thomas Eakins is one of the most revered 19th-century American artists. His brooding portraits seem to strip his sitters of all pretension, revealing an inner vulnerability. New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman described Eakins’ huge rendering of a grisly medical operation, “The Gross Clinic,” as “hands down, the finest 19th-century American painting.”
But over the last few decades, enough evidence has emerged to suggest that Eakins was a sexual predator. Not only did he cross a number of lines with his subjects and students, but a disturbing pattern of alleged abuse has also emerged. Curiously, the very group that one would have expected to speak up – feminist art historians – have been notably silent.
How should this sort of information be dealt with when it emerges? What’s behind the urge to suppress it? And how should it color our view of an artist?
Eakins quietly fired
The son of a Philadelphia instructor in penmanship and calligraphy, Eakins went on to study art in Paris. Upon returning to his hometown in 1870, he rose quickly to a position of local eminence. In 1882, at the age of 38, he was appointed director of the art school of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1886, however, he was abruptly fired from the Pennsylvania Academy with no public explanation. He then spent the rest of his life as an outcast from proper Philadelphia society. He’d gift portraits to his sitters, who would routinely destroy them. Critics derided his art as ugly and depressing.
But at the turn of the century, a dramatic shift occurred. Painters such as society portraitist John Singer Sargent came to be viewed as superficial and dishonest, while Eakins was seen as a paragon of the authentic. The first biography of Eakins, published in 1933 by art historian Lloyd Goodrich, depicted him as an exemplar of sober honesty and moral probity.
For more than half century, Goodrich’s monograph remained the primary source on Eakins for a curious reason. Shortly after the biography came out, the documents Goodrich had drawn on disappeared and were presumed destroyed. This meant that in subsequent books, Goodrich’s account needed to be used as the authoritative source.
In 1985, however, Eakins’ papers were rediscovered among the effects of his pupil Charles Bregler and shortly thereafter became fully accessible to scholars. In addition, after Goodrich died in 1987, his notes from interviews with people who had known Eakins became available. They included a great deal of material he had excluded from his published account.
While some cracks in Goodrich’s account had come to light earlier, the Bregler Papers and Goodrich’s notes made it clear that nearly everything about Eakins’ life and art needed a major reassessment.
A disturbing pattern of behavior emerges
Loosely speaking, the accusations against Eakins fit into two categories.
The first involves nudity. Eakins seems to have been an exhibitionist voyeur – someone who exposes themselves in unlikely or inappropriate situations to shock others and perhaps achieve some sort of psychological dominance.
He often undressed in front of his students or inappropriately exposed himself in front of his subjects. For example, according to his student Samuel Murray, he once walked completely naked into a room where a young woman was posing for her portrait and declared, “I don’t know if you ever saw a naked man before. I thought you might like to see one.”
Goodrich’s unpublished notes detail repeated instances in which he pressured women to undress in front of him, from his young female students to the elderly women who posed for his portraits.
He collected a large number of nude photographs of himself and his students, and he had photographs taken in which he is carrying a naked female model while unclothed. In his classes he often used obscene language, told dirty jokes, and spoke at great length about the male genitals in anatomical dissections.
The second deals with episodes that are much more troubling and bizarre.
The most disturbing involves Eakins’ niece Ella Crowell. In 1897, she committed suicide with a shotgun. The Bregler Papers revealed that she had once accused Eakins of sexually molesting her and that Ella’s parents believed her account.
The papers disclosed another troubling series of events. One of Eakins’ students, Lillian Hammitt, was picked up by the police on the streets of Philadelphia wearing a bathing suit and claiming that Eakins had promised to marry her. In 1886, Eakins’ brother-in-law, Charles Stephens, accused him of incest with his sister Margaret, who had died a few years before. Eakins’ sister Caroline also reported that he would repeatedly enter her bedroom wearing a shirt but no pants. Once, when she fled to a more distant part of the house to escape him, he shot and killed her cat.
By the end of his life, Eakins wasn’t on speaking terms with any of his siblings. Another brother-in-law, Will Crowell, admitted in a letter that he had threatened to kill Eakins.
While Eakins disparaged those who attacked him, he was a little like someone who starts a fight in a bar and then ducks out the back door. He consistently avoided specifically addressing the charges against him. Instead, he let his students, associates and family members engage in arguments about his behavior.
Silence still reigns
The belief that Eakins engaged in some form of sexual abuse is not based on conjecture but on large numbers of concrete accusations made in his lifetime.
What’s striking, however, is the persistent avoidance of these issues.
This material is still left out – surely deliberately left out – of most standard sources on American art. No textbook breathes a word on the subject. Even the Wikipedia article on Eakins systematically omits his sexual transgressions.
How can we explain this?
One possible explanation is simply that issues like sexual abuse are highly disturbing. They make one queasy. Moral issues like theft are not hard to think about in a logical way. With incest and sexual abuse, a more primitive instinct of avoidance seems to come to the fore.
Another possible explanation is that people often have trouble admitting that they were wrong. During the period before the discovery of the Bregler Papers, effusive praise of Eakins was expected of scholars in the American field, and a great many women and men engaged in it.
In 1983, for example, art historian Elizabeth Johns won the Mitchell Prize for a book celebrating Eakins as a moral, disciplined, self-made man. Though this was written before the Bregler Papers were discovered, she has never publicly changed her stance.
Even Linda Nochlin, a major figure in feminist art history, wrote an essay praising the way Eakins pictured women who look abused and declared that she felt he would have been sympathetic to her as a Jewish girl at Vassar. Sadly, this was unlikely. According to Weda Cook, a sitter for one of Eakins’ most famous portraits, the painter “didn’t like Jews.” He was also a friend and ally of the reactionary arts administrator Harrison Morris, who believed that modern art was a conspiracy of Jewish artists and art dealers.
In the past, I’ve written about Eakins’ pattern of sexual misconduct. One surprise has been the hostility of many female art historians to this criticism.
Why does it matter? Ella Crowell has been dead for more than a century. Why should we care if she was sexually abused?
My own feeling is that there’s a moral dimension to this question – that presenting a sexual predator as a moral paragon is unhealthy and that to do so twists our moral values.
But I would also argue for a somewhat different position. When we deal with contemporary events, it’s easy for a sort of witch-hunt mentality to take over. With an artist long dead, we can maintain a more dispassionate approach and search for understanding the mechanisms of unhealthy behavior.
While we can recognize that Eakins was a sexual predator, we can also point to another long-suppressed fact of Eakins’ life: His mother suffered from bipolar disorder throughout his childhood and died of “mania” shortly after he returned from Paris. As a child, Eakins had spent long periods with his mother and was charged with caring for her while his father worked.
Bipolar illness has a strong hereditary component, and we know that Eakins himself sought medical help for depression. Surely, spending long periods with a mentally ill woman must have been traumatic.
Finally, there’s the issue of Eakins’ paintings, which are widely regarded as one of the great achievements of American art. No American painter made works that are so extensively autobiographical, and so much a portrait of himself, his family and his intimate circle.
If we’re going to grasp what makes these paintings so tragically powerful, we should be honest and open in examining the man who made them and the impulses that drove him.
Seemingly aeons ago, humans used these hard plastic disks to store data and Sony was the first to incorporate that storage media into a digital camera. The company’s Digital Mavica line was path-breaking, bringing digital imaging to a wider audience.
Lazy Game Reviews takes us on a trip down memory lane (get it?) as he reviews the Mavica FD5, which was introduced to the world in 1997–the same year that IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess, presaging the slow but inevitable takeover of the machines.
The FD5 recorded images at 640 x 480 with a 4.8mm f/2.0 lens (47mm equivalent). There was no zoom or autofocus but you did get a 2.5-inch display.
One of the increasingly recognized downsides of social media fame is ecological damage, as popular landscape destinations are despoiled by hordes of photographers and casual snapshooters looking for their own piece of Internet fame.
In the video below, the vlogbrothers tells the story of the Broccoli Tree of Huskvarna, Sweden. The tree became famous thanks to the work of photographer Patrik Svedberg who photographed it over a four year period.
Initially, Svedberg posted an image to his own Instagram account, but eventually his recurring series of Broccoli Tree images earned its own Instagram page–and north of 30,000 followers.
What happens next is, perhaps, all too predictable: people began to flock to the tree to take their own photos. Then, someone or some group of someones came along and sawed into the tree, leading to its demise.
As the vlogbrothers’ John Green recounts, it’s not the first time a famous tree has fallen victim to humanity. “To share something is to risk losing it,” he says.
Social media has made the sharing, and the losing, that much easier.
Assisting is a traditional pathway to a career as a photographer, but that’s not the only route. Photographer Christin Rose started as a photo editor, which led to a job as a photographer’s rep, then to work as production coordinator, and finally to a career as a freelance producer. All of those jobs prepared her for a successful (second) career as a photographer, she says.
Rose’s advice to aspiring photographers to say Yes to any opportunity that comes along. Take work as a photo assistant, a production coordinator, a styling assistant, or anything else related to photography, she says. “Do something in the industry. Just get in.” That will enable you to build relationships critical to launching a career as a photographer later on, she explains.
The work experience also adds up, and has contributed to Rose’s success as a photographer. Rose says her stint as a rep, working with Chris McPherson, Jeff Minton, Christa Renee and other photographers, taught her the business basics. As a freelance producer working for clothing retailer PacSun, she worked with creative director Greg Crawford and photographer Nicholas Maggio on advertising shoots all over California. “I got to learn so much about production, and it’s been invaluable in pursuing a career as a photographer,” she says.
Rose still faced the challenge (like all photographers) of building a professional portfolio. But the lesson for aspiring photographers who worry about being sidetracked in other industry jobs is that many paths can lead to a career behind the camera.