Tag Archive: obama


Regret the Error: Press mixes up Obama and Osama

From Regret The Error - MSNBC correspondent Norah O'Donnel's mistaken tweet mixing up the names Obama and Osama

From Regret The Error - MSNBC correspondent Norah O'Donnel's mistaken tweet mixing up the names Obama and Osama

Regret the Error has coverage of many high-profile spelling errors made while reporting news of Osama bin Laden’s death. CNN, FoxNews, NPR, and many others have made the mistake. One Fox affiliate that made the error has written about other publications and stations making similar mistakes and considers how such mistakes might make it to air at news stations.

The Magic City by Andrew Spear

Andrew Spear was just recognized by College Photographer of the Year as a runner-up for Photographer of the Year and his documentary Glouster, Ohio: The Magic City won an Award of Excellence. I met Spear in Washington D.C. at Obama’s Inauguration in January 2009 and we’ve kept in touch. He is working on a number of great projects and I wanted to share some of his work. I asked him a few questions about “The Magic City” project and his answers are below.

Once known as The Magic City, Glouster was a hub for extractive industries in Southeastern Ohio. A region once known for its large coal deposits, the economy was also rooted in clay, timber and potash extraction as well as brick and shale production. After nearly 150 years of massive success, these industries trickled out through the 1950′s and 1960′s after stripping the region of its resources. 50 years later, the town of Glouster, Ohio is a shadow of its former self. With little opportunity for local employment, many have to commute to neighboring cities for work. What’s left behind is a strong sense of pride in the face of a struggling Appalachian community. Many don’t want to leave, and those that do often find their way back home.

When and where did you start this project?
I started working in Glouster, Ohio early 2009, when I was a junior at Ohio University. I’ve been working in the area just shy of two years now.

Where did the idea come from?
My first year living in Athens, Ohio my friend Noah and I went swimming regularly at a state park about thirty-five minutes from where we lived in and always drove through Glouster to get there. Athens is an interesting dichotomy, created by dropping 20,000+ university students into the middle of Appalachian Ohio. I grew up in a fairly well to do small town in northeastern Ohio and didn’t realize the scope of poverty in the state. There was something about the town- I think the subtle signs that it was once such a bustling place fallen from it’s grandeur. The following year, a friend and I drove out of town on an afternoon to explore, and ended up in Glouster. We found a pizza shop that had proud, historic photographs of the town in it’s former demeanor. Turn of the century mine photographs, school pictures, that sort of thing. What really spoke though, was an image of High Street, the road we were on, in the late 1950′s. The streets were lined with beautiful, brightly colored vehicles and light up signs in front of all the properties lining the streets. I think that’s when I realized how much of an impact the coal mines had on the area- it’s not just the story of an Ohio town, but that of any number of Appalachian communities. I began researching the history of southeastern Ohio, but didn’t engage myself in the project for many more months. The name of the project, The Magic City, is borrowed from a man I met one of the last days in August, just before I moved out of the area. We talked about history for awhile and he went down a mental list of names that Glouster has been called since the beginning, and mentioned that it was referred to as The Magic City at the turn of the century, due to the thriving economy and massive coal deposits.

What is the background on this project? What is the situation in this town? Do you place your project into some larger narrative about Ohio or the United States (poverty, economy, youth, etc?)
Glouster, Ohio is a post-extractive industrial town in southeastern Ohio. The coal mines built the city up in the early-mid 1800′s, and pulled out in the 1950′s after taking all they could. There isn’t much left in the way of opportunity. I don’t currently have plans to integrate this into a larger narrative. I have played with the idea of spending a few more years in Ohio and chipping away at everything that makes Ohio the place that it is, both good and bad. I’ve spent my whole life here, thus far, and feel I have an intimate understanding of the state.

What is guiding you when you are looking for subjects in this community, both in terms of people and ideas?
There are days while working on this that I’ve wandered around looking for telling details and landscapes. Those are the days I feel more introverted, slowing down and trying to tell a story without going for the obvious images. As far as people- I took some time off from shooting last winter and many of my initial contacts had moved when I got back to the project. After that, I spent time in town a few days every week, meeting up with the few people that I did still know. At this point, I was living alone in Athens and didn’t really know many other people my age- they had all graduated, and the town clears out in summer. I began spending time with people in Glouster and became friends with many of those whom I photographed. I was out working one day and I saw a group of people (30+) standing near the post office, and an ambulance had just pulled in. I ran over to see what was happening, and it had turned out my friend Gage’s mother and aunt were overdosing in their vehicle. I spent some time that day with Gage and his younger sister, Chantel, and eventually was invited back to their home. I knew they were a family that had run into many hardships, and I ended up spending most of my time over the following weeks at their home.

What research have you done with this project, both before you begun and as you continue to photograph? Are there inspirations for this project (photographs, art, books, journalism, etc)?
I read Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollack recently- it’s fiction but is based in reality. The author grew up in a holler (read: hollow) in southern Ohio called Knockemstiff, Ohio and the book is a series of short stories about various characters in the holler and their interactions with each other. It helped me understand the mindset of one who grew up in the area. Otherwise, typical research through the library and historical societies as well as digging through information on the internet. I’ve even utilized maps to really figure out the lay of the land and how the surrounding communities were affected by the geography. A group of teenagers took me swimming at an abandoned coal pit one day, and I was able to pinpoint it on a map and then looked further until I found information about how it was actually a separate community called Drakes that had been abandoned for so long there’s not even a remaining ghosttown. Other than that, I’ve got a handful of photographers I keep up on and am always drawing influence from them.

Worth a Glance: Brazilian President is a Photographer?

This just came across my favorite Foreign Policy Passport Blog: Why is Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva sporting cameras of his own so often during photo shoots with other world leaders? See the slideshow: is he’s shooting his own archive and fine art of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez? Or is it some sort of joke that none of us are understanding?

Does anyone know what’s up with this? The Internets reveal nothing. Is the president an amateur photographer or does he just grab cameras from news photographers to clown around? Are any of his snaps available anywhere? – Asks the Passport Blog

This isn’t even new, President Obama was known to take up photographers’ gear for a few frames. This is a fun mystery though. But to see behind the scenes done right, you really should look at Alex Majoli’s work from Brazil in 2004 where he spent time with the President and so much more. This is one of my most favorite photo essays around. Majoli in Brazil, 2004.

Matt Lutton’s Year in Pictures

2009 was my first real year of living and working in Serbia and it was wrought with more questions than answers. I’m still trying to figure out what last year was and what the next will bring, in terms of life and my photos. But I think these pictures may show some of what this was about for me, my relationship to friends and strangers, places and stories. These are not just my “best” pictures but include many more personal. A visual taste of my year. And I’m ecstatic to be back for another take.

Of course, I am a month past due with this in part to recovering from the holidays stateside and setting up everything here for 2010. I’ll have much more to share in the near future on what’s new these days, including projects, collaborations and websites. As always you can see my work at www.mattlutton.com and dig through my archive (and buy pictures!) at archive.mattlutton.com.

Thanks for keeping up with my work and supporting us here at Dvafoto. Happy New Year!

Many things I’ve been looking at (Pt. 2)

Here is part two of the list of things I’ve been reading the last few days week or more that I found interesting enough to share. This edition with more analysis!

First, this should be required reading daily: Foreign Policy’s Morning Brief post every morning on the Passport Blog. Yes, we get most of this from international newspaper front pages but here it is all together, and always has interesting and important updates to world stories that you just don’t see often anywhere else. More news breaks for me here than anywhere else..

There was a minor controversy this last week in Washington, for two reasons I guess. Washingtonian Magazine ran a cover that reused a wire (paparazzi?) image of Obama walking shirtless in Hawaii. So, I guess controversy for putting a shirtless President on the cover of a features magazine (with a tagline of “Reason #2: Our New Neighbor is Hot”, referring to the cover story of ’26 reasons to love living living here’), but they also photoshopped his swimsuit to red (from black). The Huffington Post wrote about this in a post called Media Literacy 101: The Ethics of Photoshopping a Shirtless Obama and then PDN picked it up with Washingtonian’s Shirtless Obama Cover: You Call This a Scandal? which gives a complete rundown and argument. I agree that this isn’t something on the level of the Time OJ Simpson cover, and mostly just want to say that this all is very weird. Having a “hot President” is a new concept for me, and maybe this is an adjustment we’ll need to get used to. I am reminded of the deservedly-lauded New York Magazine cover of McCain and Obama on the beach, which is great. Finally last word: BagnewsNotes has the analysis on this cover-controversy along with December 08 analysis of the original photo when it came out.

And a little interlude/soundtrack for this post. My favorite Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy with a new song from his new album Beware… “I Am Goodbye”.




There is not that much more I can say more than I am impressed over and over again by the Burnetts’ amazing blog We’re Just Sayin’ which blends family, photography and general useful knowledge about living. Cheers to them.

Over at Burn Magazine there is an interesting and difficult essay playing by Jukka Onnela titled “A Kind of Error”. As Bob Black, who apparently curated this essay, says in the comments, “there are knods to Clarke and Richards and Moriyama and Peterson for sure, d’agata looms large too..” (sic)

One thing appears to be going right for photojournalism: Livebooks (which powers my site) announces a hosting plan for photojournalists (PDN story with the scoop) that is significantly cheaper than their normal sites. Direct link to Livebooks Photojournalism, which costs $44/mo all inclusive. A good plan for them I think, since their normal plans really aren’t priced for most budget minded photojournalists (in fact I know of at least one who dropped the service because of cost). Luckily I’m on the EDU plan..

In keeping with the breaking news, here is Andrew Sullivan’s ‘picture of the day’ for 4/26:

A couple kisses at the Historic Center, in Mexico City, on April 25, 2009. An outbreak of deadly swine flu in Mexico and the United States has raised the specter of a new virus against which much of humanity would have little or no immunity. The outbreak of the new multi-strain swine flu virus transmitted from human to human that has killed up to 60 people in Mexico is a 'serious situation' with a 'pandemic potential', the head of the World Health Organization stated. By Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images.

A couple kisses at the Historic Center, in Mexico City, on April 25, 2009. An outbreak of deadly swine flu in Mexico and the United States has raised the specter of a new virus against which much of humanity would have little or no immunity. The outbreak of the new multi-strain swine flu virus transmitted from human to human that has killed up to 60 people in Mexico is a 'serious situation' with a 'pandemic potential', the head of the World Health Organization stated. By Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images.


Along the same lines, the Serbian Government issued a press release on their English language website that announces that:

The statement adds that in order to establish existing capabilities and assess the necessary resources for a timely diagnosis of this disease in pigs, the Veterinary Directorate carried out a control of veterinary laboratories on April 25.

The Veterinary Directorate formed special teams for rooting out infectious diseases in animals, trained and equipped to dispose of diseased animals if the need arises.

Apart from a ban on the import of pigs and stricter veterinary inspection on borders, the Veterinary Directorate will examine the heath condition of pigs and poultry farmed in Serbia.

I appreciate the action Serbia, especially since I’m living here and will benefit from your preventative measures but I’m afraid you don’t quite understand that the issue is that the disease is infecting humans at present and is killing some of them.

Here is an interview on the Design Notes by Michael Surtees blog with the designer/creator of iPhone photography applications. I’ve only read part but it could be of interest. It also deals with the ‘nature’ of toy photography, and why Takayuki Fukatsu wanted to add this ‘ability’ to an expensive gadget like the iphone.

Daryl Lang at PDN takes a stand with his post Coverage of Dignified Transfers at Dover Dwindles when he says “doesn’t this seem cold? The lack of coverage at Dover ought to cause some soul-searching among assignment editors and, especially, TV producers.” While I’m very sympathetic to the power and importance of photographing events like this I do not see this as an issue. These transfers are being documented by the AP, with at least (for now) a photographer and a writer present. And frankly this ‘photo op’ (harsh) is not anywhere close to the real story and issue. That would be the combat death and the impact on families (ignoring for a moment the larger issue of the wars and their much larger ‘footprints’ overseas). Frankly I think it is odd to suggest that a full press retinue is as necessary for proper respect of a person, their death or the story of their death as an honor guard.

From Andy Levin’s blog 100eyes I was alerted to Kenneth Jarecke’s blog where he rants about modern photojournalism in a post titled “Lets Be Honest – Part 3″. It is roughly, as I can decipher, about taking ‘style’ too far in photojournalism and what causes photographers to do it. Part 2 makes more sense but I still am inclined to disagree. His main point is that all of this “sizzle” added to images, good or bad images, weakens (cheapens?) them. I just want images to evoke something, say something, in however way the photographer wants to. All of us can and will react to the voice and ‘language’ that they’re using. I think Jarecke is confusing his dislike with a certain picture using a ‘technique’ with a whole swath of other things, ultimately generalizing about the photographer himself and a coming generation. Images can be good or bad, and yes they can be either because of the ‘style’ put in to them. Just disagree with a particular picture or series, and let people experiment. It either works or it doesn’t, and as he says, the essence of photography is “I saw this. I found it interesting. What do you think?” . I do agree that people can be pushed in bad directions (over cooking images in photoshop or even setting up images) by the economics of the photo market (i.e. that is the crap that tends to get published, and sometimes rewarded). I feel it myself, we all do. We see the winners of World Press or what work is getting published and the thought ‘I gotta make work that looks like that’ crosses our minds. But it is each photographers’ choice to make and their decision to present their photographs in the way that they do. So I’ll reserve those judgments for each individual photographer and their work. Or maybe blame the editors.

(c) Stephen Voss

(c) Stephen Voss


Stephen Voss just posted some insane and striking images from abandoned schools in Detroit. Have a look.

Scott Strazzante has a touching post about optimism, his friends, mentors and layoffs in American newspapers on his blog Shooting From The Hip.

Speaking of newspapers (and layoffs) The Recovering Journalist has an interesting post about Inventing The Future in Iowa following the innovative exploits of The Gazette newspaper in Eastern Iowa. Interesting write up but frankly, after a few minutes poking around the website, I don’t see what is new or what the fuss is about.

Via The Click I saw this update about the ‘The Polaroid Kidd’ Mike Brodie on the Feature Shoot site. There are many more pictures and images from the 2007 exhibition on this page. I remember when these pictures first hit the ground a year or two ago, I think I saw them first in some sort of photo chain email. I loved them then and still do, very very much. So personal and really genius. Have a look, and remember he did it all with no training no fancy gear and at the age of 18. Kind of devastated me when I first heard that :)

(c) Mike Brodie

(c) Mike Brodie

Ok, one more slightly-wonkish Foreign Policy blog link: How NOT to dismantle the U.N. by Mark Leon Goldberg about issues within UN peacekeeping missions and accountability, and how this intrudes on the effectiveness of missions and local support. Very applicable, in my interest, to Kosovo and Bosnia of course.

Conscientious has one of his more interesting posts for me in a long while while highlighting Anna Shteynshleyger, specifically her intriguing work from Siberia and the sites of Gulags. It is made even better by this really interesting analysis/critique by Pete Brook at Prison Photography (which I hadn’t known till now, but is now rss’d). And here is the crux for me that Colberg teases out, which I’d love to explore later: “It indicates that there are no photographic conventions established, yet, for how to deal with the Gulag – which might reflect that the discussion (or actually amount of discussion) is still very much in flux. In fact, now that Russia has descended into a sort of authoritarian quasi-democracy, the Gulag there seems to be evolving into a non-topic…” . I don’t entirely agree, and neither would many in Russia I’d venture, but I too haven’t seen any photography that comes anywhere close to written accounts. My favorite of which is Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Imperium which I recommend with pleasure and passion.

A friend of mine sent me this very intriguing visual-blog (?) on the New York Times called And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman. I’ve only had the pleasure of reading her latest post May It Please The Court so far, but I look forward to reading back. Kalman also has a cool looking book.

I’ve seen everyone posting about the New York Times article about Danny Lyon and his two new books, but I two quotes struck me and bear repeating:
“You put a camera in my hand, I want to get close to people,” he said. “Not just physically close, emotionally close, all of it. It’s part of the process.” And, “It’s a very weird thing being a photographer.” Ooh, I agree.

Oh, and as evidence of my insanity and need to spike a few dozen of my rss feeds … this is what my computer looked like while I was preparing these posts…

Too many windows in Firefox

Too many windows in Firefox

Lastly, and I say this reluctantly, I am now on twitter. So join me if you want smaller versions of this kind of post and my musical ramblings.

Beograd

Aye, I have been procrastinating on this post for far too long. I landed in Belgrade a week ago and have been trying to find the words to sum up what this move is all about and what I’m planning. Maybe I’m still figuring it out for myself.

I am currently staying with my friend Jovan of the wonderful XAOC group which we profiled a little bit with an interview with my good friend Djordje Jovanovic. Near the center of Belgrade and a nice flat (minus their fun but overly energetic and yappy dog named MimiNPCRambo), but I’m pining for my own place… unfortunately, finding a decent apartment here at an ok price is hard to do. Patience is called for. Patience is my life right now.

Leaving New York, Tribourough Bridge. 2/4/08

Leaving New York, Tribourough Bridge. 2/4/08


New York ended beautifully with a number of terrific and very encouraging meetings from diverse magazines and agencies, from Vanity Fair to GEO and Getty (and a lucky last-minute ticket to see the Colbert Report tape a show). Hopefully things will come of the solid reviews soon. As I will expand below, there is a lot that I have cooking here in the Balkans and Russia that I am incredibly excited about and I hope I have the chance to fund them and then get them published. DVA will absolutely be a big part of the latter, at least in the short term. I plan to post updates on my stories, travels, assignments and thinking.
Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09


This move to the Balkans is both a long time coming and a sudden impulse decision. Back in 2007, when I was on a Balkan study abroad program from the University of Washington, I had a chance to visit a number of cities in the region and then stay on to live and work in Kosovo. From my first few days in Belgrade then, in April 07, I knew that this was a city that was meant for me (like New York). From that moment I knew that I could, and should, move here to pursue my work. I visited again in May/June 2008 and it definitely strengthened this idea … (to utterly rip off my friend Boogie’s phrase, and ironically at that) … I felt that ‘Belgrade Belongs To Me’.
Kralice Natalija Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Kralice Natalija Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09


Ultimately there was not enough happening in Seattle for me and it is simply too damn far away from any of the stories I’m really interested in doing right now. Odd, but there really are more work possibilities for me outside of the United States (I see friends moving to the Middle East these days too; the American photographer diaspora?) and hopefully being ‘in a small pond’ will provide me a strong if not lucrative start to my international career. I’ve got a lot of faith, there are dozens of positive signs and I am receiving a lot of support (if only it were the financial kind), so I am very optimistic of success and important pictures. Time will tell, I am and will be forced to remain patient.
Belgrade. 2.12.09

Belgrade. 2.12.09


I made the decision and bought my ticket (first to New York then to here) about two weeks before I had to leave. Added to the impulse, and hurry, was the last minute decision to go to Washington to cover Obama’s Inauguration. So in a rush I packed up my books, gear and some clothes in Seattle into three bags and hit the plane running; still can’t believe I packed up my life and got away so quickly. Maybe this is the best way to do it, maybe not, but it is working for me. Since moving back to Seattle in the summer of 2007 I’ve been living lightly and without many strings, hoping to be able to get on the road should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately, it really didn’t so with extremely small savings I bought this one way ticket. Now, I’m here trying to find an assignment or two and am prepared to pick up an English teaching job. Yea, wish me luck :)
Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade. 2.12.09


The short term plan is to head to Kosovo on Saturday to be part of the first anniversary “festivities” that will happen around the country. On February 17 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence amidst a strange international reaction and a strong festive and emotive party in the streets. Conventional wisdom amongst journalist friends, Kosovar and international, is that there will be similar actions this coming week, and maybe some stronger Serb reactions in Mitrovica and Serbia proper. No strong rumors yet to anything ‘big’ happening but it is a nice story and probably a very good follow-up chapter in my ongoing work there. It seems the world will be watching (i.e. publications will be interested) so I am quite hopeful to sell a couple of pictures. My agents (Invision and Grazia Neri) are also very enthused about the story and have told me that European editors are responding very favorably to my portfolios so who knows. Work soon, I hope.
Advertisement near Knez Mihailova, Belgrade. 2.12.09

Advertisement near Knez Mihailova, Belgrade. 2.12.09


Longer term I will be visiting Moldova and the Ukraine for the start of a series of projects on Russia’s influence in flux, centered around the energy economy. After, I hope to find a way to fund some trips across Russia where I have dozens of story ideas, including my dream project in Eastern Siberia, which I’ve mentioned obliquely before. Until I secure funding I still won’t describe what it is :) But this is the month when I will hear from 4 or 5 grants and if luck will have it I’ll be there working by Fall.
Belgrade. 2.12.09

Belgrade. 2.12.09


More soon I hope, this time with new real pictures. Haven’t shot anything at all since I’ve been here except these pictures of the snowstorm at dusk today, too much work getting situated and recovering from the crazy push through New York. There have been some requests to describe that process of getting and preparing for meetings with NYC editors and hopefully I’ll get something together on that too. Cheers to all, friends and colleagues. For now from snowy Belgrade, the white city, M.
Belgrade. 2.12.09

Belgrade. 2.12.09


Terazije, Beograd. 2.12.09

Terazije, Beograd. 2.12.09

The Obama-meter

While a lot of the coverage of the new American administration is pretty similar between various media organizations, publications, and websites, there are a few projects that seem new and different. One such, the likes of which I’d not seen before, is the St. Petersburg Times’ Obama-Meter. A small army of staffers have sliced and diced all of the campaign promises, arguments, and factoids spit out by the Obama administration and other prominent government officials, and rendered them in easy to understand, but well-cited, snippets which are then judged on truth and follow-through. As of this writing, 5 of about 500 campaign promises have been kept, 14 are currently in the works, 1 has ended in compromise, 1 has been stalled, and none have been broken. Here’s the paper’s explanation of how the whole thing works. The Truth-o-Meter is a similar project, with 41 pages of American politicians’ statements rated for truth and accuracy, ranging from pants-on-fire style “felony cherry picking” on the part of a Republican Party of Florida anti-Obama mailer to the truth of McCain’s statement that “Obama’s no maverick”.

This seems like a perfect marriage between the internet audience’s demand for quick facts and newspaper journalism’s ability to leverage a large staff’s investigative wherewithal and institutional memory. What’s more, it’s great to see a newspaper stepping up as a political watchdog in such an accessible, easy-to-digest, and generally factual way. This is a welcome change to the past decade or so of punditry’s stranglehold on American political discourse. In my mind, the media should always occupy an adversarial role in political affairs, regardless of whether or not the politicians in question are generally liked or disliked. This role might even be more important with an overwhelming popular administration, in that positive media and public opinion might serve as distraction from pernicious political maneuvering going on behind the scenes, such as was the case directly after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

While we’re at it, New York magazine recently published an interesting behind-the-scenes feature on what goes into making some of the New York Times innovative web packages. Slashdot’s mention of that article also clued me in to a former New York Times staffer’s discussion of his work with the paper’s Cybertimes group in the mid-90s. All of this is especially interesting in light of Michael Hirschorn’s speculation in the Atlantic Monthly that the New York Times might cease operations as early as May 2009.

What a Day

Back at home editing the day’s take, basking in the moment that was today. All 16 hours of it. To paraphrase a sentiment of Michael Shaw (of BNN) after attending the DNC, “how strange it is to be on the movie set as opposed to viewing it through the media”. This was my first major political event, and a big one at that. Looking back at what I’ve seen and felt these past days it will be fascinating to compare it with the pictures I have made (plus the editors’ interpretations of it) and those made by my collegues around DC. This has to be the most photographed event in history (cliche? but I think its true). I have always said, when asked why I am a photojournalist, that I wanted to witness history, to ‘be there’ and communicate to others what my personal interpretations of the moment were. I finally got my chance with a major event where ‘the whole world was watching’. It’ll take time for that, and the pictures, to sink in.

Along the Pennsylvania Avenue as Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States. January 20, 2009.

Along the Pennsylvania Avenue as Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States. January 20, 2009.

I’ll have more pictures coming before too long (also see The Bag for more) but here are a couple of links to other work and ‘interpretations’ of today that I’ve responded to while sitting here tonight.

Iris Burnett of We’re Just Sayin’ talks about why she didn’t attend the inauguration, with many brilliant words.

Callie Shell for TIME rocks things with disorientatingly intimate and personal shots “Behind the Scenes of Obama’s Big Day”. I’m especially struck by this image (13) which I’ll give analysis of here, or on BAG, a little later. Suffice to say it digs into something deep that wasn’t readily apparent from the parade grounds or the little bit of television coverage I caught in a window.

Now, in non-Inauguration things:
The Twitter Heard Round The World: jkrum’s picture of the Hudson Plane Crash (taken on an iphone!). Really, a beautiful and important picture. In line for the Pulitzer?? there is a history of amateur pictures winning..

Related, DesignNotes by Michael Surtees details his interactions with the news flow of the downing of Flt 1549 on the Hudson River in New York City. Fascinating breakdown of how new media (citizen media? see link above and all the twitters) is getting information out to (certain) individuals with hardly believable speed. Really remarkable. As he says,

Thinking about it now, the speed of events was pretty crazy. Within an hour and half I had learned that a plane had landed in the Hudson River, saw images within minutes of it happening, watched the rescue live, hearing survivors being interviewed soon after, and by the time it was over knowing that everyone was going to live – I was listening to music from A Flock Of Seagulls. All the tools that I used to get more info was available to anyone out there which was kind of cool in itself.

Now in ‘current events in pictures’: two wonderful and searing views of the Gaza insanity from a couple of favorite photographers: Tivadar Domaniczky and Alex Majoli.

Plus: On Sunday I was blessed to be able to visit the newly opened Robert Frank exhibition at the National Museum of Art on the Mall (which I previously wrote about) and it was Fucking Brilliant. The best photo exhibition I’ve ever seen, and not just because of the work … it was very smartly curated and designed. Contact sheets, prints from earlier work, collages of work prints and that awesome Catalogue. If you are in DC or can get there, Go. If not, Get the book. The Americans made me the photographer I am in the first place, seeing it again revitalized me (and reaffirmed my belief to ‘go it my way’) ever more.

A young vendor sells Obama-themed merchandise and flags at dusk near the White House on the Eve of Obama's inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 19, 2009.

A young vendor sells Obama-themed merchandise and flags at dusk near the White House on the Eve of Obama's inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 19, 2009.


And one more time for those here who haven’t got the message: GO READ BagNewsNotes for some really insightful and engaging thought about the visual politics of this (historic) moment. Oh, and Rachel Maddow really was as gorgeous, humble and altogether wonderful as people say while stuck in line at the 12th Street security barrier with me (and thousands of others).

Chasing Obama

I’m in Washington DC now hanging in the backroom of my friend Noah Devereaux‘s apartment, where he is very generously letting me crash for the few days of this Obama Inauguration. While not on assignment per se I am working with Michael Shaw over at BagNewsNotes to provide some ‘exclusive’ images for his analysis and consumption, be sure to head over there to see what he is up to. As well, I’m feeding my European agents with the work and who knows, maybe a US publication or two will pick something up. Certainly, it is very nice just to be in DC for this event … this is definitely something we’ll all be recounting years from now.

Wilmington, DE

Wilmington, DE

On Saturday, 12 hours after getting into New York, I was in a two-car convoy of photographers heading south on the I95 through New Jersey chasing after the Obama “Freedom Train”.

We first caught him and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden giving a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. I was able to glimpse Obama from a distance (hooray) but the work was ‘on the fringes’ as Alan Chin would say and we all shot in the crowd. The first few images are from there. Then it was a mad rush back to the car and back on the road, trying to beat Obama to Edgewood, Maryland where he would make a ‘whistle-stop’ and roll through a small town’s Amtrak station to wave. Luckily we did make it to the city in time, about an hour south from Wilmington, and were able to shoot some nice scenes of a very diverse crowd waiting in the cold (maybe 15-20* F?) to see the new President roll in to town.

Wilmington, DE

Wilmington, DE


Edgewood, MD

Edgewood, MD


Then it was another rush to get to Baltimore, but here we lost the scent and were only able to photograph a gathering of people watching a Jumbotron of Obama’s speech on the Inner Harbor. After, a leisurely and exhausted drive into DC.

Sunday was the first official inaugural event, a giant star-laden concert at the Lincoln Memorial that had crowds stretched over a mile away past the Washington Monument and onto the national Mall. Lots of pictures here, interesting people crammed into an interesting space. Security prescence has been interesting … sometimes you see lots of police or troops, other times not at all.

Washington DC, 1/18/09

Washington DC, 1/18/09


Washington DC, 1/18/09

Washington DC, 1/18/09


Washington DC, 1/18/09

Washington DC, 1/18/09


Washington DC, 1/18/09

Washington DC, 1/18/09

More soon I hope .. will be heading out shortly to see what is happening in town on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The big stuff will be tomorrow though when Obama is sworn in at 11am. Still don’t have a real plan for how I’ll be covering that..

Goofy self portrait, Washington DC

Goofy self portrait, Washington DC

Some things I’ve been looking at

Been in a little funk over the weekend after hearing that I didn’t get an important grant from my university that was to fund my Russia story.. there are other paths and I’m pursuing them vigorously but this was a bummer. Spent much of the last few days reading, looking, listening and thinking and, since I haven’t come up with a big post to write from any of them, I’ll have to dump on you another massive link roundup. Lots of interesting things and terrific photographs, hope something suits your fancy if you’re looking for a little education or entertainment.

I’ve had a borrowed copy of Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde on my desk for a few weeks and I just found time to read through. Fucking brilliant, and utterly heartbreaking. If you’re not familiar, it is a illustrated piece of journalism .. war journalism in ‘comic book’ form. Brought me right back to all of the people I know and the things I’ve seen in Bosnia .. Gilles Peress had it right, first, with the sentiment behind his book “Farewell to Bosnia”. Gone, gone was the idea of a true multi-ethnic Bosnia. And this isn’t something that has gone away, warns Richard Holbrooke in the Guardian. I’ll be delving into this deeply when I’m back over there.. (also, reading this inspired me to go find my copy of Eugene Richard’s The Fat Baby.. which has a story I haven’t seen anywhere else about his trip to a Serb war hospital in Bosnia in 1995.. if you have the book go look and read.)

Got up this yesterday morning and found a particularly interesting post by Kevin German on his blog Wandering Light, featuring a new body of work he is starting on mental illness in Vietnam. I think it is a tremendous start of a story with beautiful photographs .. well worth a look. Very interesting timing, too, as I saw Friday for the first time Eugene Richards’ new book A Procession of Them at the bookstore. An important topic and I admire these photographers for pursuing this difficult story .. I spent an hour in an institution in Kosovo this past June (one that Richards covered much better in his own book) and it was a draining situation.. hats off to these men.
(c) Kevin German(c) Kevin German

I know that at least a few of you out there are interested in the Balkans like me, and I’ve got to recommend a story in Vanity Fair about Ramush Haradinaj, “House of War”. A remarkably well done piece about this man, who is a former KLA general and PM of Kosovo and an acquitted war criminal. Plenty of background about the war in the West of Kosovo too.

I’ve mentioned Jason Eskenazi and his new book Wonderland a couple of times now (1, 2), and last week NPR published an interview with him, and you can listen online. Eugene Richards even pops up to give some nice commentary. Seems like everyone is noticing and writing about this book these days, also see the write-up on The Fader’s website.

Here is an interesting (if slightly formulaic) article from the Washington Post (signin might be required .. try bugmenot.com if you need one) about Barack Obama’s transition from ‘normal guy’ to President. “Much to His Chagrin, ‘Plain Old Barack Is Gone’”. Odd picture of a scary secret service guy, but otherwise I enjoyed this peek into the transition.

Michael Rakowitz's ParaSite

Michael Rakowitz's ParaSite


From the wonderful Wooster Collective blog: Old photo-street art, and Michael Rakowitz’s ParaSites, inflatable shelters for the homeless, and an example (with Gaia) of Wooster’s revived and terrific “The A’s to our Q’s” series. Beyond cool art, they’re great little interviews .. inspiration for our series here on Dva too.

I have no idea what kind of reputation the magazine MONOCLE has, I only ran into it while traveling through Heathrow some months ago. Beyond way too expensive items recommended, there is a terrific design and feel to the mag. I’m curious to know more about it.. (chime in please if you know something). On their website I just saw a nifty little video-story about “New designs on diplomacy”, the process behind designing new embassies (in this case UK and Norway) in stressed locales. Quite interesting.

For anyone out there who is still wanting to wallow in the Digital Railroad mess, here is a lengthy piece (which I admit I haven’t read completely) by Photoshelter CEO Allen Murabayashi: “What Happened to Digital Railroad?”.

I can’t remember where I first saw G.M.B. Akash’s work from Bangladesh, but I was reminded again when he wrote on Lighstalkers that he won the 2008 Kindernothilfe Media Award in Germany for a story on Child Labor. See the story, which includes this World Press winning picture, on his website.

(c) G.M.B. Akash

(c) G.M.B. Akash

11th Annual Postcards From the Edge: A Benefit for Visual AIDS seems like a very interesting opportunity to donate a small piece of work for a good cause. Check it out.

More music (video): “Create Your Own Rainbow”, a chance to mix your own version of Radiohead’s “15 Step” off of In Rainbows via a crazy interface and 12 camera angles. I don’t have enough bandwidth where I’m at, apparently, to make it run smoothly but maybe you’ll have more luck.

Lastly, Colberg at Conscientious writes On photography collectives. In short, he is ‘pro’ photographers working together and can’t figure out why there aren’t more :) Congrats again to Luceo for being ahead of the curve.

We’re working a lot of interesting things for the coming weeks, some more interviews and I’ll have more to chat about my near-term plans for a marketing trip to New York and the move to Belgrade. Stay tuned!

Patients at a controversial, multi-racial Mental Hospital in Shtime, Kosovo. Though there are more than 40 patients at the facility there are huge budget problems and no on-site psychiatrists. (c) Matt Lutton, 2008

Patients at a controversial, multi-racial Mental Hospital in Shtime, Kosovo. Though there are more than 40 patients at the facility there are huge budget problems and no on-site psychiatrists. (c) Matt Lutton, 2008