Instagram Removes Forced Square Aspect Ratio for Multi-Photo Posts
Hate cropping your pictures into a square format on Instagram? You’re in luck!
While the app did away with the mandatory square format in August 2015, the rule still stuck for users creating multiple photo and videos posts. Starting today, however, Instagram announced that users can choose landscape and portrait formats when uploading multi-image posts. The only caveat is that all photos and videos in the post must be in the same format—all portrait or all landscape.
Instagram also announced that you can now edit tagged people after the post is live and, in iOS, users can save these posts as a draft if they aren’t quite ready to upload.
The update is rolling out as part of Instagram version 12.
What to Expect if You Plan to Cover Harvey’s Aftermath
As journalists head to south Texas and Louisiana to cover the continuing floods and the damage from Hurricane Harvey, photographers who have been on the ground since the storm made landfall on Friday say they are managing with lack of gas, power and transportation, and using various communication methods to stay in touch with each other to work safely in hazardous conditions.
Austin, Texas-based photographer Tamir Kalifa has been shooting for The New York Times. He and the Times‘s Houston bureau chief Manny Fernandez have maneuvered around parts of the city in a Jeep 4×4 with four-wheel drive. “Make sure you’re in a vehicle that can get as much traction as possible,” he warns. Chicago-based photographer Alyssa Schukar, who has been shooting for The New York Times in Victoria, Texas and Houston, says her vehicle stalled at an evacuation point. Shukar and New York Times writer Alan Blinder then were able to travel with the National Guard to Houston, then traveled with citizens who used small boats to rescue their neighbors. Even in a boat, she says, “There are so many cars underwater, and there’s a decent chance we would hit one.” Downed power lines add to the danger.
On Tuesday, Kalifa told PDN that there is no gasoline available in the area, but colleagues who have had to cover hurricanes in the past had warned him to bring an extra supply. “We had ten gallons strapped to the roof. We used it, and wouldn’t have been able to finish without it.” (To learn how Houston Chronicle photographer Marie D. De Jesús and her colleagues prepared for the storm, read PDN’s interview.)
Reuters photographer Rick Wilking notes, “The cell phones work surprisingly well in most places, and I have a satellite phone for areas where they don’t, like Rockport,” a city that was hit hard when the storm made landfall and is still without electricity. Wilking has used Whatsapp to check in with his colleagues and share information. He has also used multiple map programs to navigate the flood. Schukar was able to use Google maps to help guide a boat loaded with evacuees and the citizens who had rescued them.
Photographers have been working in steady rain in waist- and chest-high water, so condensation in cameras is a problem. Kalifa says he’s been using aquatech covers over his cameras. “Sometimes you can’t see what you’re getting, but it’s a better solution than ruining your gear.”
Photographers PDN spoke to say they want to continue covering the response to the storm. “By far the vast majority of help is coming from volunteers,” Wilking says. Kalifa says, “The human capacity to help others is as extraordinary as the devastation.”
Reporting on a natural disaster is a different challenge when your own home and community are under threat. For photojournalist Marie D. De Jesús and her colleagues at the Houston Chronicle, Hurricane Harvey has meant balancing work and home life.
PDN spoke with De Jesús via phone and email on Tuesday to learn how she and the Chronicle photo staff are working to cover the crisis. She told us about conditions on the ground, what she’s seen that’s made an impression on her, and how the experience of veteran photojournalists and communication among the Chronicle photographers and editors have been key to telling the story of their city.
PDN: First of all, are you safe? Has your home been affected by the disaster?
Marie D. De Jesús: Nothing serious, some water came up through the shower drain. Some of the water from the backyard came into the living room. I have a housemate, he owns two dogs and they went missing in the middle of the chaos and one of them died. So this has been a really hard week.
PDN: Has it been challenging balancing work and home life when your home has been in jeopardy?
MDJ: Balancing work and home life has been a big challenge. Our lives are here, we are not returning to a hotel at the end of the night. We are returning to take care of our homes and loved ones. I have to make sure that under these harsh conditions I will be able to get back to a safe place.
I have been focusing on following evacuees to their shelters and the recovery efforts now that the waters are starting to subside in the center of the city of Houston. Houston is 36 percent Latino, so my Spanish has been useful to be able to learn about their struggles and document them.
PDN: How did the Chronicle photo staff prepare to cover the hurricane and flood?
MDJ: We have several senior shooters that have already been through this process a number of times. Number one, with Katrina , then Hurricane Ike , [Tropical Storm] Allison . Then we had the Memorial Day Flood  that was also devastating for the city. We have people that have done this many times. They’re very well-prepared, we have our kits prepared and our tools ready.
I’m from Puerto Rico, I’m an island girl. Hurricanes are part of our life, part of our culture, so you learn to get prepared. [The staff photographers are] constantly group chatting using GroupMe app. Every single move, we know where everybody is at, we’re giving updates and the editors are sending us instructions: “This levee is about to give in, this amount of houses have been destroyed, an officer with HPD might have drowned.” So we are mobilizing constantly through that app. We’re reacting as we need, but this is not our first rodeo, this is not our first hurricane or storm. This city floods. This is what happens, it’s The Bayou City, so there’s always water coming up and rising really high. We have been arriving home after a long day of shooting to start planning for the next day. This is a lot of planning. That’s the only way this has been a successful mission.
PDN: Has it been helpful to you as a photographer who is seeing something of this magnitude for the first time to have colleagues who’ve covered larger natural disasters?
MDJ: Yes. We start talking about [hurricane season] early in the summer. One of the senior photographers, Melissa Phillips, she sends us prepping emails with a list of tools, maps and things that can be useful for us to try and navigate [the situation]. On the first day [of Harvey], on Sunday, all of us had to stay and report from our own neighborhoods because we could not get out. We’re all from different parts of the city, so we were all sending photos from those areas and they’re all catastrophic scenery. It was horrible from all the corners we were sending photos from. They are very supportive. We are a pretty tight-knit staff.
PDN: What have you seen that has been the most striking to you?
MDJ: It never gets repetitive seeing people having to decide what to take with them. Water is reaching to their chest and they’re [wondering] what do I take? How do I keep a kid calm when we have to go to a shelter? It still surprises me when I hear someone say, “We have been in our car for four days, waiting to be able to get to a shelter.” Can you imagine, with two kids, and a two-year-old, inside a car since Saturday and finally being able to find a shelter? Cooped up inside her car, trapped because she can’t really move, waiting for someone to rescue them?
Seeing people [airlifted to safety]. And then seeing people reunite at the shelter because some of them haven’t seen each other for days—that’s something that you carry with you forever. Or people arriving to shelters and immediately being given oxygen, things like that. I just came from a shelter and one of the dogs [that was rescued] started pulling on its leash wanting to jump into the lap of its owner who is in a wheelchair. That’s the type of thing that we’re seeing.
And also the volunteers, it’s just amazing. Last week we were hearing about a nation divided over a dark history, and then all of a sudden all of that is not important anymore.
MDJ: Walking in water that was up to my chest. And then I saw a snake pass by me. It was a small snake but still, when you have water up to [your chest] and you see a snake pass by, it’s little things like that. You’re running on adrenaline constantly. And I can’t imagine for the shooters that have been really being involved in even heavier stuff.
PDN: Have all of your colleagues been safe?
MDJ: Yes, everybody is in good shape. Under these conditions every solid photo is a miracle. Making really good photos is hard, it takes a lot.
PDN: Have you been focusing on stills or video footage?
MDJ: It is important for the Houston Chronicle that we shoot video, but we have all focused mostly on stills. We have a videographer, he’s supposed to be doing mostly video but the conditions have been difficult for video. So I know he has also been shooting mostly stills.
PDN: I would imagine it has been incredibly difficult to move around. How have you done that?
MDJ: I am using a company car, a four-by-four. But you know you keep turning around. I have been driving against traffic on a major highway because you have to turn around, you can’t cross those waters. And then I get on the medians; I use the truck in ways I could never imagine was possible. Things that would be so not OK with law enforcement, but under these circumstances you climb anywhere that you can to be able to pass that body of water, that pool of water, that puddle. Whatever you need to do to make it happen. We all constantly have to turn around. We let each other know: “Hey, I-45 is still a lake by main street. Don’t even try.” That has delayed the process.
PDN: What do you see unfolding for you over the next couple of days?
MDJ: I think we’re going to have to start to focus a lot on where are these people staying—all the evacuees, all the victims, we’ll have to start focusing a lot more on their life conditions. Also the water will come down eventually and we’ll start seeing the damage, and that might mean a lot of bodies. So that’s what we need to keep our eyes and ears open [for]. How are people still being affected? What’s under those waters? Was there real damage? And then the cleaning process. We’ve got to rebuild.
For more on Hurricane Harvey from the photo staff of the Houston Chronicle, go here.
PDN Video: Photographer Oriana Koren on Breaking Barriers to Success
Oriana Koren shares tips and advice on how to make it as an editorial photographer, gleaned from her experience as a woman of color in a predominantly white male business. In our video interview, she describes how she leveraged prejudice to motivate herself, learned how to pitch stories to get editors to respond to her emails, and developed a niche that has propelled her career. She talks about portfolio reviews and self-doubt with words of encouragement every photographer will appreciate.
Photojournalists in south Texas are prepping to cover Hurricane Harvey―a Category 2 storm that meteorologists are predicting will bring as much as 35 inches of rain into the region with winds of 100 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
For those covering the storm, we’re sharing the NPPA Safety & Security Task Force’s Hurricane Coverage guidelines, which are outlined below and can be found in full here.
1. Turn around, don’t drown.
Half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water, the NPPA guidelines note. It is never safe to drive into flood waters.
2. Pack your go-bag with essential items, things you’ll need besides your camera gear.
Think clothes for bad weather, appropriate footwear, medication and toiletries, first aid kit, vehicle emergency supplies including at least one five-gallon gas jug. Consider chest waders, a life jacket and a length of rope if you plan to walk in flooded waters.
3. Before you go, do your research.
Check and see if there’s a public notification alert option for the area where you plan to go. Look for the “Emergency Management” website of the area you will be covering. Bookmark these sites on your phone and laptop and learn how to quickly search for updated information to have all the necessary information to make safe decisions. Check the National Hurricane Center.
4. Bring cash.
Don’t rely on credit cards or ATMs. The NPPA suggests that $600 per person should be okay.
5. Communicate and navigate.
Have a plan for communicating with—and checking in with— your loved ones and editors. Don’t rely on cellphone service. By now, most journalists heading towards the storm should have arranged to use satellite phones, two-way radios, multiple cellphone providers, satellite tracker messaging devices, etc.
FotoEvidence Teams Up With World Press Photo for New Photography Award
FotoEvidence and the World Press Photo Foundation have announced a new documentary photography award for 2018 called the FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo. The winner’s work will be published in a book and promoted by FotoEvidence, and two other selected finalists will be exhibited during the World Press Photo Exhibition in 2018 in Amsterdam.
The award is open to professional and amateur documentary photographers covering human rights violations, injustices or assaults on human dignity. Entries are currently being accepted (note: there is a $50 fee to apply) and the deadline to submit your work is December 15. Entry rules and guidelines can be found here.
Judges for the new award include Svetlana Bachevanova, publisher of PhotoEvidence; Lars Boering, managing director of the World Press Photo Foundation; Peter van Agtmael, photographer and founder of Red Hook Editions; Gary Knight, VII Photo Agency co-founder; Jen Tse, photo editor at Newsweek; and Daniella Zalcman, award-winning documentary photographer.
Notes Bachevanova: “After seven years and sixteen FotoEvidence books, we expect the FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo to expand our reach to a worldwide audience, strengthen our mission promoting social justice, and increase our support for photographers who demonstrate courage and commitment in the pursuit of human rights.”
Previous FotoEvidence Book Award winners include Zalcman (2016), Marcus Bleasdale (2015) and Majid Saeedi (2014). The 2017 award was given to Poulomi Basu for her project “Blood Speaks: A Ritual of Exile,” but FotoEvidence rescinded Basu’s award because of questions about her ethical conduct while creating the work, and misleading caption information.
5 Organizations Align to Diversify Photojournalism, Launch Survey
Five organizations committed to making the photojournalism community more inclusive are joining forces. Reclaim, the umbrella organization, is comprised of Women Photograph, The Everyday Projects, the new photo agency Native, Majority World and the yet-to-be-launched publication Minority Report. They announced yesterday that they are “working together to diversify our community of visual storytellers, making sure that the lens through which we interpret our world are as diverse as the people and places we hope to document.” To start, they’re circulating a survey, and asking photojournalists, photo editors, curators and other members of the photojournalism community around the world to answer questions about their work and career paths. The goal is to understand the barriers to inclusion of more diverse perspectives in documentary photography.
The organizers say “every effort will be made to maintain each participants’ anonymity.” Participants have to provide an email address, but are not required to submit their names.
The organizations that form Reclaim strive to elevate photographers underrepresented in the media. Minority Report is an as-yet-to-be-launched magazine that will highlight “the lived experience of and work produced by people of color.” Majority World, an agency founded by Shahidul Alam of the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka, provides publications access to high-quality images by local photographers in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Native is a new platform that “represents, nurtures and highlights visual journalists from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.” Women Photograph is an initiative started by by photographer Daniella Zalcman, to elevate the voices of female and gender non-conforming visual journalists; it includes a database of 500 female and non-binary photojournalists. The Everyday Projects, which includes such Instagram feeds as @EverydayAfrica, @EverydayMiddleEast and @EverydayLaFrontera, has used the social media platform to highlight images that challenge misperceptions of multiple cultures.
Photo editor and doctoral candidate Tara Pixley, who is working with Shaminder Dulai to launch Minority Report (and wrote the article “Why We Need More Photographers and Photo Editors of Color” in PDN’s September issue on Diversity), told The New York Times that the survey is a first step in guiding their effort to make the photo industry more inclusive. “We need detailed information about who gets into photojournalism, who stays and who succeeds, as well as what are the advantages and disadvantages that certain groups have in the industry.”
The folks at the Cooperative of Photography have taken a stab at answering the question in the video below. As someone who spends a fair amount of time on the question, their guesses strike us as pretty educated.
Incidentally, in the October issue of PDN we put the question of what the camera of the future looks like to the people who might actually build it–the lead engineers at some of the world’s leading imaging companies. Look for it soon!
Mark Peterson: Photographing the Hate in Charlottesville Up Close
The New Republic has published Mark Peterson’s dramatic images of clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend between white nationalists at the so-called “Unite the Right” rally, and counter-protesters who showed up to demonstrate against the rising fascist movement. Peterson has covered US politics since the 1990s. We caught up with him to find out why he covered the rally, what he was trying to accomplish, and how he positioned himself to photograph the white nationalist leaders—and the violence—at such close range.
PDN: What took you down to Charlottesville? Were you on assignment? Mark Peterson: I went on my own. I’ve been kind of following [white nationalist Richard] Spencer. He had had a rally in June on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Nobody seemed to notice. At that rally he announced he was going to go to Charlottesville and do [this rally] in August. I thought it would be a large rally.
PDN: Why did you start following him, and what cooperation do you have from him? M.P.: I have no in with him or carte blanche. I’ve just been following in the news what he’s been doing. I’m following [the white supremacist movement] because I think this is kind of the new Civil War in our country and that he—his group [National Policy Institute] is in the forefront of it. In the past when you would look at these groups, people could easily identify their racism and overt violent nature. But [Spencer] seems to have a much more polished message, and seems to be reaching a much larger audience. When his group is around, they’re all dressed in polo shirts, and khakis, and they look like a fraternity of these young men. I think he sails under the radar in a lot of ways, but it’s really creating a movement.
PDN: This work seems to be the next chapter of your Political Theatre project [published in 2016 by Steidl, and honored in the 2017 PDN Photo Annual]. M.P.: Yeah, that’s where I want to go with it, is to this Civil War—I hate to use that term like that, but a lot of minorities in this country say [the Civil War] never did end. This [racial tension] now bubbling up has been going on for a long time.
PDN: What’s your goal in photographing this movement and these events? M.P.: When I went there [to Charlottesville] I wanted to do some portraits of people and show how quote-unquote normal they might look, but also to show the possible anger that’s just underneath the skin. I thought I would go and make portraits of [Jason] Kessler [who organized the Charlottesville rally], or Spencer and [former KKK leader] David Duke in that environment. But then everything spiraled out of control very fast and it became more about how these people came with shields, and they had flags with metal poles. And the metal poles weren’t to carry the flags, they were to spear people and assault people with. So they came with that intent, and that became apparent really quick, and people were fighting really fast.
PDN: Did you feel in danger? What did it feel like for you, and what precautions did you take? M.P.: I’m not a conflict photographer and I’m a big chicken, but I’m also not very smart. So I was just kind of wandering through the melee. I got pepper-sprayed, I got hit with objects, and one of the Nazis head-butted me at one point. Yeah, I just kept feeling like it was important to photograph, rather than worry about myself, I would say.
PDN: You were also working at close range. How close were you? M.P.: I’m not very good with long lenses, and it never feels like a picture to me with a long lens. So that’s why I like to work close. I want people to feel what I’m feeling. So yeah, I’m a few feet away from everybody.
PDN: You mentioned that a Nazi head-butted you, but what sort of OK were you getting to be right there with them, so they wouldn’t beat you up? M.P.: There was one guy who had a hard hat that said “Commie Killer.” I was photographing him, and he kind of mugged and gave the thumbs-up, and the next guy came along and head-butted me. [Other people] wouldn’t threaten you, but they’d be, “Who are you, why are you here?” I would never respond, because I didn’t want to get into a discussion. I just wanted to keep working. The safest place to be would have been behind one group or the other, but I found better pictures to be in the middle. That’s why I was there.
PDN: So you were right between the two front lines? M.P.: Yeah, because I wanted to see their eyes, and I wanted to see their intent. I mostly photographed the Nazis. They weren’t looking like, Oh, we want to come here and discuss General Lee and the statue [of Lee, the planned removal of which prompted the rally] and Southern heritage, which is what they claim the rally was about.
PDN: Are there images that you consider particularly strong, or successful at getting at what you were trying to get at? M.P.: [One was] a picture of a man who had [slave] chains on, and was addressing the Nazis and was saying, “This is what that statue represents.” Next to him was the head of the New York Black Lives Matter group. Another picture that didn’t run was somebody with a [Pan-African] flag, waving it in front of a line of white nationalists. All those people had shields, and this guy just stood there, and waved the flag, and was very strong, and powerful to do that—unafraid.
PDN: I’m not seeing either of those pictures in The New Republic spread online. M.P.: Maybe they didn’t put them online. But one [they published] is of David Duke. I covered David Duke in the 90s, and to him, [Trump’s election] was a victory. Then if you look [at the picture] of Richard Spencer, he’s standing there with four guys [bodyguards] around him in suits. He’s trying to look like a politician with Secret Service around him, you know? And what he was saying was, “I love the smell of tear gas in the morning.” And he kept saying it like he was being so clever and funny to mimic Robert Duvall from Apocalypse Now.
PDN: Was he aware of you standing there and photographing him? M.P.: Yeah, he knew I was photographing him. That was in the penned area, where [Spencer and over leaders] were going to speak from. And they weren’t allowing the press in.
PDN: How did you get in there? M.P. I just kind of snuck in. I walked in with a group, and the whole time I was in there, people kept going, “Who are you? Who are you with?” I kept moving around, and stayed in there a half hour.
PDN: What were you shooting with that you were so under the radar? M.P.: I don’t think I was under the radar, I was using my usual Canon 5D with a 24-105 lens, and I have this brick of a flash that I carry.
PDN: Did you finally leave or get thrown out? M.P.: I left because I could sense that things on the street were starting to get crazy and that was more [where the pictures were].
PDN: Where did you go from there? M.P.: Just before noon, the police told everybody to leave immediately or they’d be arrested, so people dispersed. I was following different groups [around the downtown area], just to see what happened. When the guy drove the car into the anti-fascist group, all of a sudden the Dodge [truck] came backing up onto Market Street. It was badly damaged and I thought: Something’s going on here. So I ran about two blocks [to find] people lying on the street, all injured and hurt. It was sad.
PDN: Where do you go from here, now that these pictures are out? Do you think you might be recognized, and [barred from] future events? M.P.: I’m going to keep trying to follow people [in the white nationalist movement]. These groups aren’t open to the press, so there’s already a barrier there. We’ll see what I can cover, but I want to continue covering what goes on, because a lot of this tension has been bubbling for a year now.