Category Archive: politics
Fader magazine has just published new work by Daniel Shea focusing on the effects of gun violence on Chicago’s youth. It’s a beautiful and sensitive approach to a difficult topic.
The essay, Chicago Fire, grew out of previous work Shea did for the magazine and is the centerpiece for Fader’s photo issue this year. As photo editor Geordie Wood explains on his tumblr, the work was shot over 4 weeks and aims to show what life is like for youth in Chicago’s South Side. The magazine will devote 16 pages to the photos in print, and more photos will be published on Fader’s website this week. There’s also an interview with longtime Chicago crime reporter Alex Kotlowitz about violence in the city over the past 20 years.
We’ve written before about the so-called “Ag-Gag” bills that make illegal unauthorized video and photography of agricultural operations in various states. Today, the New York Times has an update on the increasing number of these types of laws throughout the United States: Videos show cruelty on farm, and taping becomes the crime. The NYT’s reporting connects bills across the country to a business advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. The organization creates model legislation for state legislatures to adopt such as The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, which would prohibit video and still photography of livestock farms and puts violators on a “terrorist registry.”
Though no laws including a terrorist registry provision have yet been passed, Iowa, Utah and Missouri have passed laws that make it illegal to document operations on farms and agricultural operations without authorization. Indiana and Tennessee will soon vote on similar laws, and California, Pennsylvania, and other states are debating similar measures. The Indiana law would require prospective employees to disclose ties to animal rights groups during the hiring process. Animal rights groups say that these laws make it impossible to document animal cruelty on farms and ranches. Opponents of bills have managed to stall or stop Ag-Gag bills in New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Wyoming.
Christopher Anderson’s, of Magnum and staff photographer for New York magazine, photos are always inventive and cut deep into his subject matter. His portraits from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this week and last for New York magazine are my favorite coverage of the political conventions, and they look like no one else’s. I feel so many different and conflicted emotions looking through the images from both conventions: hope, aspiration, enjoyment, fright, worry, resignation, indignation, anger, desperation, sadness, intimidation, inclusiveness, engagement, distance, and on and on. Take a look through these galleries:
- Portraits From the Republican National Convention, Part One
- Portraits From the Republican National Convention, Part Two: Bachmann, Brewer, Mitt, and Ann
- Portraits From the Republican National Convention, Part Three
- Portraits From the Democratic National Convention, Part One
- Portraits From the Democratic National Convention, Part Two
It’s not often that a local newspaper’s fall football preview package doubles as on-the-money political satire, but Kai-Huei Yau’s portraits of high school football stars for the Tri-City Herald in eastern Washington state do just that. The spectacle and pageantry of the national presidential campaign has been distilled to its essence in these portraits of competing football players from area high schools. And what do we have in the national presidential campaign if not a high school popularity contest writ large. Just as with high school football players, the politicians have supporting team members, cheerleaders, adoring fans allied to one team or another rather than a particular player, sponsorship and recruiting deals, and parades playing to the hometown base. In one image (above #3), we have a stern looking player appearing to deliver a serious speech with the word “Bombers,” the high school’s team name and mascot, written across his chest; at the Republican National Convention last week, Senator John McCain’s might well have worn the same jersey during his war-mongering foreign policy speech. In another (see the whole series here), we have a player wearing a suit with dirty and bruised fingers standing at a podium holding a football; it’s a perfect visual metaphor for the compromises made behind the scenes that underpin the clean images that candidates present to the public.
Kudos to Kai for his work on this piece. Not all of the images are entirely successful (he’s relying on the acting chops of high school football players, after all), but the idea is right on the money. High school football coverage can be a bear to do, but this silly, over-the-top send-up of high school is creative commentary on the national political campaign process and beats the pants off of most other fall football previews I’ve seen.
Be sure to check out his blog post at the paper’s website for more images from the project and explanation of how he pulled off some of the shots.
Covering the DNC and RNC? NPPA has a handy legal and practical guide for the conventions and protestsAug 14, 2012 by M. Scott Brauer No Comments »
While covering these events police may ask to see your images, recordings or files. Be aware that you do not have to consent to such a request. They may try to intimidate, coerce or threaten you into doing so but “consent” must be voluntary. You should know that absent consent or “exigent circumstances” an officer may not seize your camera. Exigent circumstances only exist where an officer has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed AND that you have captured evidence of that crime on your camera AND that there is also a strong likelihood that such evidence may be lost if the camera is not seized.
Are you planning on covering the Republican or Democratic National Conventions at the end of August and beginning of September? You should be aware of legal and practical issues that may arise during the process of documenting both the conventions and the protests around the conventions. The National Press Photographer’s Association has a handy guide that covers the basics of covering both conventions, ranging from what to do if you’re arrested to how to stay safe in a crowd to dealing with the heat. The guide also includes a brief survey of local and federal ordinances and laws that will apply to people on the scene and educated guesses on how police may treat journalists based on recent actions of police in Chicago during the NATO summit protests earlier this year. For instance, items that could be considered weapons will not be allowed close to the convention areas and include items photographers might bring along such as tripod, monopods, and ladders.
Stay safe out there!
In May we interviewed the Serbian photo collective Kamerades and showed pictures from their group project about the Serbian elections called Dirty Season. This week Saša Čolić released his short film that is part of the same project. The film “is aimed at bringing attention and addressing the causes and reasons for apathy and desolation within the Serbian political process. This is also part of a global problem of voters disinterest and apathy in the political dialog.”
Filmed/Directed by: Saša Čolić / Kamerades
Script: Danka Sekulović
Editing: Maja Yuill and Jelena Vidaković
Project coordinator: Photography Development Center
Photographers watch out! You could be arrested for recording police activity at Chicago NATO events (UPDATED)May 2, 2012 by M. Scott Brauer 4 Comments »
UPDATE (7 May 2012): Thanks to Kyle Hillman for writing in with news that the city of Chicago has announced that they will not enforce these eavesdropping laws during demonstrations at NATO events this month. In March of this year, too, a judge ruled that the law barring recording police activity was unconstitutional. Hopefully this law is not long for the world…
Original post: If you’re planning to cover the NATO events in Chicago in a couple of weeks, you need to be aware of Illinois laws regarding police activity (the main G8 meeting was moved to Camp David, but the NATO Summit will continue as planned). We’ve covered this issue before, but it bears repeating. Under Illinois eavesdropping laws, a number of people have been arrested and prosecuted for recording audio (some in the course of recording video) of police activity. While Massachusetts does not prosecute people for openly recording police activity, Illinois has gone after individuals for both secret and opening recording of police duties. A proposed law in Illinois, HB3944, “exempts from an eavesdropping violation the recording of a peace officer who is performing a public duty in a public place and speaking at a volume audible to the unassisted human ear.” There’s a strong argument to be made that even secret recording of police activity is vital to the public interest in fighting police abuse and corruption; it’s a frightening prospect when police work to undermine the public’s protection against their power. But, in the meantime, it remains illegal in Illinois to record audio of police in the state. If you’re planning to capture video or audio at the upcoming Chicago events, be very careful.
While we’re at it (and thinking of a photographer friends’ experiences in Seattle covering Occupy protests yesterday), get acquainted with your rights as a photographer and journalist. Time Lightbox recently published a handy list of links, many of which will be familiar to long-time readers of this blog:
- The National Press Photographers Association’s Advocacy homepage
- The ACLU’s Know Your Rights Photographers page (they helped make the ridiculous and informative video above)
- Attorney Bert P. Krages’ Photographers’ Rights Pamphlet
- Carlos Miller’s Photography Is Not a Crime blog (which just celebrated its 5-year anniversary; I’d wish another 5 years of success to Miller’s blog if it didn’t mean 5 more years of abuse of photographers…)
Stay safe out there. None of these resources will protect you when the police or anyone else is hitting you or destroying your gear.
“If any of the things we see don’t suit us, guess who is to blame? It’s never us, it’s always the photographer. It’s never the fact that we want to see certain things, it’s always that someone else is not showing us what we want to see.” Joerg Colberg – Colin Pantall on what photographs tell us
Colin Pantall and Joerg Colberg both recently wrote interesting posts on what photographs tell the viewer and how they do so. Analyzing two well-known photos of apparently disinterested observers in the middle of crises, Colin Pantall investigates how photos work to inform preconceived and simple narratives in the viewer’s apprehension. If the viewer is looking for hip, young New Yorkers unaffected by the attacks on September 11, that can also be seen in Thomas Hoepker’s photo. If the viewer wants to see a diverse group talking about the events of the day, that can be seen, too, as one of the subjects of the photo suggests. Joerg Colberg continues the thread, suggesting that we should approach all photographs by understanding what role the subjects of those photos are expected to play in such “simplistic narratives.” Both posts are well worth a read.
We’ve already had the debate this year on the reading of photographs to fit into easy narratives with Samuel Aranda’s World Press Photo 2012-winning photo of a Yemeni mother comforting an injured man. Some saw a Western photographer shoehorning Christian ideology on a Muslim and Middle Eastern scenario; others saw a beautiful and heartbreaking devotion of mother/woman taking part in revolutionary struggle. For what it’s worth, the woman in the photo found out about the photo via facebook and thought it supported the revolution and showed that Yemenis were not extremists.
…framing the problem in terms of either the diminishment or promotion of compassion means we are incapable of generating the move from singular expression to collective action. The myth of compassion fatigue, then, frames the issue in a way that can only fail. ‘Compassion fatigue’ – aside from being unsupported even in its own terms – is entirely the wrong concept for thinking about how the images produced by photojournalism work. And for too long it has prevented that thinking from progressing. -David Campbell, The Myth of Compassion Fatigue (pdf)
Susan Sontag’s long reach extends to current discussions of the effects of photojournalism, but one of the central arguments in On Photography, that audiences have become weary of caring about humanitarian crises due to the endless promulgation of reporting and photography, was vague and baseless. But the idea of “compassion fatigue” continues.
David Campbell, a thoughtful writer on photojournalism, has just published a draft of one of his most recent papers, “The Myth of Compassion Fatigue” (pdf). There’s a summary of the paper’s main points on his blog. The paper addresses the origins of the idea of compassion fatigue, Sontag’s own reversal of her original thesis, current thinking about compassion fatigue, and, most importantly, a look at what sort of evidence might indicate that compassion fatigue is a problem. Looking at figures on charitable giving, Campbell shows that an overabundance of images and things to care about has not diminished public donations. Compassion fatigue isn’t a significant problem in the way that most people think it is. The paper “reviews all the available evidence of which I am aware relating to the relations between photographs, compassion and charitable responses. None of that evidence supports the compassion fatigue thesis.”
Campbell raises a point at the end of his paper which deserves more investigation. The constant stream of imagery and reporting from crises near and far continues to create compassion among audiences, but measuring public response to extreme circumstances only in terms of compassion may be the wrong way of looking at things.
“It was after an attack against demonstrators on Al-Zubairy Street. I went to the field hospital and did not see my son among the dead or wounded protesters. I checked the place again and saw my son lying on the ground suffocated with tear gas, so I embraced him and [Aranda] must have taken the photo at that moment.” -Fatima Al-Qaws, speaking to Yemen Times
According to Yemen Times, someone has come forward saying she is the veiled woman in Samuel Aranda’s World Press Photo 2012-winning image. Fatima Al-Qaws says she was comforting her son as he recovered from a tear gas attack. The man in the picture, her son Zayed Al-Qawas, told the publication, “I did not expect this photo to win among thousands of pictures and it is a real support to the revolution. It demonstrates that Yemenis are not extremists.”
Reactions to the image continue online. There’s an active discussion at the Facebook Flak Photo Network (where I first saw this story linked) and Paul Melcher has written a piece called “Emotionless.”