Category Archive: Links


Worth a look: Kola Superdeep by Sergey Novikov

Russian photographer Sergey Novikov wrote in a little while ago to share his project Kola Superdeep. The project offers a glimpse into a remote area in Russia’s Murmansk Oblast above the Arctic Circle that is home to one of the deepest holes ever drilled on Earth. Drilling and research in the area, which borders Norway and Finland, was abandoned in 2008, but a small population remains and Norilsk Nickel continues some mining operations which have a devastating effect on the landscape.

Take a look at the project and be sure to look at the rest of Novikov’s work. I particularly like his series of street portraits in Moscow and Grassroots, a look at Russian soccer fields, which reminds me of Hans van der Meer’s European Fields.

Covering a violent weekend in Chicago


“I found myself barefoot, ankle deep in water, holding the hand of a 17-year-old boy who had been shot during the downpour. I told him to hang in there and that the ambulance was on the way.” -Vincent D. Johnson, He was motionless with his big eyes staring up into the rain

It was a particularly violent weekend in Chicago, with some 82 shootings in 4 days. Vincent D. Johnson, a freelancer for the Sun Times, wrote a moving piece about the watching one of the weekend’s victims die while Johnson kept him company waiting for the police. The piece is well worth a read. It’s part of the Sun-Times’ Homicide Watch section.

Huffington Post has collected tweets and instagram posts of two Chicago Tribune staffers, reporter Peter Nickeas and photographer E. Jason Wambsgans, as they covered the violence, too. As you progress down the sequence of events, the victims keep filling up lines in a notebook.

In his piece, Vincent D. Johnson said he remembered advice from one of his teachers, “You’re a human first and a photojournalist second.” The Columbia Journalism Review just published an article about this very subject, which is more contentious than you might think. I was glad to see LA Times’ Clarence Williams’ toothbrush picture lead the article; before I considered myself a photographer, I attended a lecture by him at my university and the story of that image and what effect it had has always stuck with me. There was massive backlash against the phtoographer and writer for not intervening in the situation, and they won awards for the work. Williams’ work on the story won the 1998 Pulitzer for Feature Photography. The story had a real impact, though. The subjects’ lives were improved as a result of the reporting and Los Angeles and the state moved quickly to reform child protective services there.

Make sure to read CJR’s Are we journalists first? It’s a good survey of the issue.

And while you’re at it, revisit Daniel Shea’s Chicago Fire for Fader from last year.

Worth a look: Offside Brazil by Magnum and local photographers

Screenshot of Offside Brazil

Screenshot of Offside Brazil

Following in the footsteps of the ongoing Postcards from America tumblr project, five Magnum photographers and five Brazilian photographers are posting daily photos to Offside Brazil. I’m not a sports fan, but the project appeals to me because it focuses on the social and economic impact of the World Cup games as they happen. I wish there was more text to go along with the project (and I’d bet there will be a book or exhibition of this work in the future) but it’s a fascinating glimpse into daily life in the country from a variety of perspectives.

There’s Jonas Bendiksen’s super slow-mo videos (the New Yorker has a little more information about those, which he calls “Still films”) and Alex Majoli doing his usual interesting work. And there’s Paulo Fehlauer’s triptychs, Barbara Wagner looking at the city of Recife, Pio Figueiroa’s stories of Sao Paolo’s urban nightlife, and Midia Ninja‘s documentation of different protests (Midia Ninja is an independent journalism/activist group in Brazil).

Tumblr might not be the best way of presenting the work, but it helps get the work out fast and to a large audience. There’s a lot to look at, and the project is moving fast. There were three or four new pictures added while I wrote this post. However, the project is definitely worth keeping an eye on and does a great job at providing context to the circumstances surrounding the World Cup as it all unfolds.

Safe to enter: Filson + Magnum Outdoor Photography Contest no longer a rights grab

Filson + Magnum Outdoor Photographer Contest

Filson + Magnum Outdoor Photographer Contest

We know a lot of people depend on our deadline calendar. We try our best to only list contests with good terms and conditions and which will be beneficial to participants and winners. Generally, this means that the contest must meet the Artists’ Bill of Rights at a minimum.

I was excited when I first noticed a contest for outdoor photography sponsored by Magnum and Filson, the award for which would be a spot in the upcoming Magnum Annual General Meeting masterclass and some of the new Filson camera bags. I looked through the terms and conditions, as I always do, and noticed a rights grab that stated: “each winner shall irrevocably grant … the entirety of the rights in and to the winner’s Submission [to the sponsor] … for any and all purposes in any and all media whether now known or hereafter developed, on a worldwide basis, in perpetuity.” I was surprised that Magnum would lend its name to a contest with such an awful set of terms and conditions, so I sent a few emails. Magnum was founded in order to protect the rights of photographers, after all. In the end, Magnum and Filson worked to fix the terms and conditions and extend the deadline to June 12, 2014.

The contest is now safe to enter, and you should because it’s got some great prizes.

I first emailed Magnum’s general email address and used Filson’s online contact form. I didn’t expect to hear back from those initial messages, but a Filson rep got back to me the next day saying he’d heard from others about this and was looking into it. The original June 8 deadline was fast approaching, though, and there was no response. I decided to email the studio of Alec Soth, one of the photographers giving the masterclass offered as a prize in the contest, and he got right back to me saying he’d get in contact with some of his colleagues about this. The next day, I got a call from somebody connected to Magnum who had been in contact with the CEO of Filson.

Both Magnum and Filson did not want to rip off photographers and would be working to change the contest immediately. He’d explained that there was a lack of communication between the legal team and the people running the contest and that the legal team had drafted standard contest terms and conditions without consulting the photography side of the team. This is actually a pretty standard occurrence; I’ve found that many contest operators just user boilerplate legal language for their contests and aren’t aware that they’re bad for photographers.

Within a day, the contest had been amended to remove the rights grab from the terms and conditions and to extend the deadline to June 12, 2014. I’ve already submitted my entry.

Gawker: Vice Media staffers and freelancers work for a “pittance”

Vice Media

Vice Media

Freelancers—writers, photographers, illustrators, and otherwise—tell us the rates are low, and that Vice (like many other publications) is often slow in paying them. Salaries at Vice Media and the company’s pay rate for contract work were described to us as “a pittance,” “a fucking joke,” and “so low I couldn’t even consider it, it was offensive.” -Gawker, Working at Vice Media Is Not As Cool As It Seems

I’ve never worked with Vice, but have plenty of friends who have, and I’ve heard horror stories about their pay rates and frequent payment delays. This Gawker piece alleges that the Vice empire has been built on wages and assignment rates that freelancers and staffers describe as a “pittance,” and which they often wait months to receive. A former intern told Gawker that they were offered a full-time job at Vice in Brooklyn with an annual salary of $20,000. A high-level editor at one of Vice’s highest-trafficked sites earns under $40,000 per year. Vice has responded to Gawker’s piece: VICE to Gawker: Fuck You and Fuck Your Garbage Click-Bait ‘Journalism’ but does little to dispute the facts of Gawker’s piece beyond some ad hominem attacks and writing that “entry-level salaries range by department and are competitive with comparable emerging media companies in the digital space.” All of Gawker’s sources are anonymous.

Vice has been doing a lot of things right these days. Vice on HBO is a thought-provoking and wide-ranging series. Vice News has been impressive to watch over the last year or so; the reporters there tackle hard news with depth and wit, often on topics and regions undercovered by other outlets. Simon Ostrovsky’s Russian Roulette series on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is not to be missed. There are creative, weird, and informative pieces periodically published by Vice, such as Mitchell Prothero’s Paintballing with Hezbollah. Vice’s Media Kit (direct pdf link) claims that Vice has over 650 million views on YouTube and the highest watch time of any YouTube channel with original content. Across television, print, and many online publishing outlets, Vice is one of the big successes of the digital media era. The Nieman Journalism Lab had an insightful article about the launch of Vice News which includes some information about the companies financials; selling a 5% equity stake to 21st Century Fox earlier this year means the market value of the company was about $1.4 billion at that time.

Since the Gawker piece came out last week, I’ve seen it posted a few times on social media, and each time have seen comments from freelancers complaining about low rates and long-delayed payments.

Remembrances of Camille Lepage

I’m still shocked by the news of Camille Lepage’s death in Central African Republic last week. We finally met in person a few weeks ago at the New York Times Lens Portfolio Review. It’s been tough to see her picture all over social media, but it’s good to see her infectious smile and her work reach so many.

There has been little new information regarding her death, though this Le Monde article has more detail than most publications, and Google Translate does a passable job on it. A number of publications and individuals have published thoughtful remembrances of Camille and her work in the past few days (and I’m sure many more in French, as well), and I thought it’d be good to collect the links here.

The UN, Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists, have all condemned the killing and joined calls for an investigation into Lepage’s killing. Reports seem to indicate that the people she was travelling with were ambushed and all were killed. Immediately after news of her death became known, French president François Hollande called the killing a murder or assassination, and called for an investigation into the circumstances of her killing. Camille Lepage is not the only journalist to have been killed this year. As of this writing, Reporters Without Borders lists 18 journalists killed in 2014, and the Committee to Protect Journalists reports 15. Those killed have been both foreign and local journalists.

Must read: When a Kidnapped Journalist Is a Freelancer

“Publishers reap all the rewards of working with freelancers, but assume none of the risks. If something terrible happens at any point leading up to, or following the transaction, the publisher bears no responsibility.” -Jaron Gilinsky, When a Kidnapped Journalist Is a Freelancer

In the past year, we’ve posted a few items about the increasing use of freelancers in conflict reporting. Using freelancers, publications save money and mitigate risk, shifting the substantial risks, both personal and financial, to vulnerable and often young freelancers. If you haven’t already, spend a few minutes with Jaron Gilinsky‘s piece When a Kidnapped Journalist Is a Freelancer. Gilinsky is CEO of Storyhunter, a website that helps freelance video journalists pitch and showcase their work.

In the piece, Gilinsky details a few recent cases of freelance conflict reporters who’ve been kidnapped or killed in recent years. Ali Mustafa‘s family was saddled with $20,000 in debt just to retrieve the young photographer’s body from Syria, and the photo agencies who bought his pictures offered no help. Both James Foley (previously) and Austin Tice have been missing for years; the Global Post has helped Foley’s family search for the reporter, but the Washington Post has apparently done little to find their stringer. Molhelm Barakat (previously) was killed while stringing for Reuters without hazardous situation training, insurance, or protective gear, and he may have been under 18.

Gilinsky offers the most detail in contrasting the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of journalists Javier Espinosa and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova in Syria. Espinosa is a staff reporter El Mundo, but Vilanova is a freelancer who has worked with Gilinsky’s Storyhunter website. Both were eventually released after six months in captivity, but the ordeal played out differently for the two journalists. Because he was a staffer, Espinosa’s family received his full salary and benefits throughout his captivity. For Vilanova, on the other hand, debt began to pile up as his studio rent, home mortgage, and other financial obligations began to pile up. There was no news organization to lend financial or legal resources to any negotiations that might have helped secure his release or provide for his family or funeral should the need arise. Friends and family created a crowdfunding campaign which raised nearly €40,000 as of this writing, which will pay Vilanova’s debts and allow him to purchase new gear to resume working.

Ultimately, Gilinsky argues that there needs to be systemic change within journalism to make it so freelancers no longer feel the need to undertake such substantial risk to make a living in the industry. He says publications and news organizations should require (and provide) insurance and conflict training to freelancers, and freelancers should refuse to work with publications that work with uninsured journalists. Last year, the Sunday Times said it would not buy work from Syria from freelancers, and other organizations should do the same. And organizations such as RISC, the Rory Peck Trust, and Reporters Without Borders, offer training and support to freelance conflict journalists.

Make sure to read Gilinsky’s piece.

Worth a read: Before they resurrect the noble savage

Africa is a Country - Before They Resurrect the Noble Savage

Africa is a Country – Before They Resurrect the Noble Savage

The message found there is this: let us, the tainted citizens of modernity, bask in the beautiful simplicity and cultural purity of these exotic people of color before they become corrupted beyond redemption by the burdensome complexity of our lives. While you’re at it, make sure to take special note of the photographer’s unique ability to tame these mysterious and wonderful tribes with his inexhaustible charm. -Zachary Rosen, Before They Resurrect the Noble Savage

I’m disappointed I missed this post by Zachary Rosen at the excellent Africa is a Country blog when it was published in late 2013, just as photographer Jimmy Nelson’s Before They Pass Away project was getting a lot of press. The work shows members of tribes from around the world in unspoiled landscapes decked out in their traditional garb. CNN lamented the disappearance of “tribal beauty.” The Daily Mail was worried about people “disappearing forever.” Time Lightbox introduced the work with the odd phrase “Portraits of Authentics.” If those headlines don’t scream postcolonial gaze or white guy photography to you, the project website certainly will.

Rosen’s critique of the work, titled Before They Resurrect the Noble Savage, is a strong and well reasoned indictment of the project and its approach. Referencing the “noble savage” and salvage ethnogography, Rosen argues that the work doesn’t show the people of these tribes but rather the photographer’s (and the West’s) vision of what they should look like. The people are presented as exotic; they’re pure and uncorrupted by modernity. There’s an argument to be made for photographing all sorts of people and cultures around the world, but an unquestioned romanticizing of “the natives” is an approach long since written off as specious and condescending. Rosen also points out the breathless praise of Nelson’s work as it was published around the world late last year. It’s surprising that this idea of the exotic “other,” which seems to be the impetus for Before They Pass Away as presented by a photographer qua explorer and reality TV star, was so widely accepted and acclaimed.

By the way, keep your eye on Africa is a Country, the blog that is not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama, if you’re interested in a critical look at the way the African continent is represented in contemporary media and culture.

Boston event: 20/20 with Boreal Collective and other New England Photographers

20/20 with Boreal Collective and their New England friends

20/20 with Boreal Collective and their New England friends

This week I’m joining members of the Boreal Collective and a few other New England photographers showing work at a slideshow event in the Flash Forward Festival in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The event is free and open to the public on April 30 at 7pm at Petit Robert Central, 101 Arch Street, Boston, MA 02110 (entrance at 34 Summer Street, and it’s happening in the Paris Room). Each speaker will show 20 slides at 20 seconds each, accompanied by a talk about the project, following the Pecha Kucha format. The work shown covers diverse subject matter–I’ll be showing recent work from Russia–and it all fits, more or less, in the realm of documentary photography.

The photographers presenting are: Laurence Butet-Roch, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Brett Gundlock, Johan Hallberg-Campbell, Tony Luong, Mauricio Palos, John Tully, Ian Willms, and M. Scott Brauer. Justin Maxon is listed as a participant, but couldn’t make it at the last minute, unfortunately.

Hope to see you there. And if you don’t make it to this slideshow, hopefully you can attend some of the other Flash Forward events this weekend. There’s a great lineup this year.

Worth a listen: Tyler Hicks on Fresh Air with Terry Gross

On the heels of winning the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography and the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Capa Gold Medal for his photos of an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall, New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks was interviewed by Terry Gross on the WHYY/NPR program Fresh Air yesterday. I’ve been a long-time fan of Terry Gross’s interviews; they’re usually well-informed and wide-ranging and address hard questions on the subject at hand.

It’s rare for a photographer to appear on the program, but there have been some from different genres over the past years of the show. Here are a few that I’ve found searching the Fresh Air archive, though not all are available to listen online: Horst Faas, Roy DeCarava, Robert Freeman, Ashley Gilbertson, Joel Meyerowitz, David and Peter Turnley (audio not available), Randy Olson, William Gottlieb, Doug Niven (audio not available), Fazal Sheikh (audio not available), David Douglas Duncan (audio not available), Marion Ettlinger, and “>James Nachtwey (audio not available)

You can listen to the interview, which is just over 40 minutes, in the above embedded player or on the Fresh Air website.