Tag Archive: seattle
This week the Seattle Times Company, publisher of The Seattle Times newspaper, announced that they would be donating ad space in the newspaper to support two Washington State political campaigns: the “Yes on R-74 Campaign” (a referendum supporting Same-Sex Marriage in the state) and the Republican candidate for Governor Rob McKenna as a pilot project to prove the worth of paid political advertising in newspapers at a moment when such investment by campaigns is dwindling. The Times is the only remaining daily newspaper in Seattle following the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s move to web-only in 2009. The first of the full page ads, which are considered independent expenditures and the content of which is not coordinated with McKenna’s campaign (or the Seattle Times’ newsroom, for that matter), appeared in Thursday’s newspaper and will continue this week. The value of the contribution of ad space in support of the McKenna campaign, at market rates, is $75,000 so far and it is believed a similar value will be given as an in-kind contribution to the Washington United for Marriage campaign which is advocating for the approval of Referendum 74.
The Seattle Times newsroom has a comprehensive article about the controversy: “Times Co. criticized for McKenna, gay-marriage ad campaigns” and The Stranger, an independent weekly newspaper in Seattle, also has strong coverage of the story on their website’s blog called the SLOG, including their news item about the ads, questions raised by Rob McKenna’s Democratic opponent Jay Inslee and responses by The Seattle Times company and some of the reporters in the Seattle Times newsroom.
The Times Company’s spokeswoman Jill Mackie describes this move as a “one-time pilot project aimed at demonstrating the power of print advertising” in an interview with The Stranger. The Times has previously endorsed both the Republican candidate for governor and the pro R-74 campaigns in this election cycle. Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman said in the Times’ article that the Seattle Times news department “was not part of the discussion or the decision to do this.” In the same article the Times quotes Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute: “It’s not the newspaper’s problem; it’s not the publisher’s problem; it’s not even the readers’ problem; it’s the problem of the reporters who are covering these issues and these candidates. Their credibility at stake.”
Paid political advertising in our national newspapers is not new, and is not under oversight at this moment. We must look closely at the Seattle Times’ leadership and ethics as a company that intends to buy advertising in their own product to support one particular position on a electoral vote (R-74) and one partisan political candidate, while also attempting to maintain an effective and neutral newsroom. I, for one, am angry and confused about the handing of these expenditures (their planning, their placement, their timing) no matter the possible benefits each campaign might receive from the Times Company’s donation. I have positions on both of the campaigns that are at the center of the Times’ marketing stategry and that does not get in the way for a moment about my anger of how this is being done. It is not about the issues in the campaigns, I see the issue as how a newspaper company can so clumsily be trying to help swing races in this manner. The ethical shortcomings are vast and disheartening. But it remains to be see if this is a smart business decision, as I cannot help but admit, that might be the only avenue the Seattle Times Company has left: growing its business of selling political adverts at the cost of further undermining its own editorial divisions. This could indeed be a smart business decision, that least the newspaper’s readership and in turn our democracy in a far less informed place.
There are a lot of questions, and way too many speculations to indulge in here. But have any of our readers heard of similar programs which blur the business of a newspaper so much as the Seattle Times Company placing their own branded ads into their paper alongside editorial pages? And what must the staff think about this inside work-around on political fundraising and expenditures? There are rumors of a Seattle Times staff rebuttal to how they are being treated (for example: this momentous decision happening behind their backs) but also expressing their concern for the future of their reporting careers in this city in the possible wake of the paper losing credibility amongst some sources and voters.
This will be a test case to watch. Can you think of any other ones like it that we can see and compare with? Interesting times in my home town, no matter.
David Kasnic shared his work with me a few months ago, and we had a beer at a nice seedy Ukrainian bar in New York when I was last in town. He’s from the Pacific Northwest originally, like myself, and he is finishing a degree in photojournalism at Western Kentucky University. I wanted to ask him a few questions about this moment in his career and the pictures he has made lately.
Where did you come from, where did you grow up, how did you end up studying photojournalism?
I grew up in Washington State in a small town called Wenatchee, which is located in the middle of the state and is about two hours away from Seattle. I think it was probably sophomore year of high school when my best friend Evan got a point and shoot camera for Christmas and I fell in love with it more than he did. I mean, I think he liked it, but I was really into it. I don’t think we were really into taking serious pictures, just funny stuff. Pictures of friends mooning the camera, raising hell in grocery stores, mostly throwing things out of cars. Both of us were in this photography class in high school where we got to use both film and digital and I think that’s where I really fell in love with photography was in that class. I think the only things I took pictures of were concerts, skateboarding and gross shit my friends did, but I had a good time. I knew by the time high school ended that I wanted to start taking photography seriously, whether that meant studying it in college or not. I wasn’t able to go to college right off the bat because I kind of dicked around in school and never really took the right classes, the right tests, etc. After a year of hustling pretty hard at a community college in Seattle and working part time washing cars at Toyota of Bellevue, I was able to start applying to four-year schools. I applied to Western Kentucky University one day, thinking I wouldn’t get in, and a week later, my parents got a letter in the mail saying I was accepted. I’ve been at WKU since 2008.
Can you give some introduction to the pictures you have on your website?
Basically, I’ve been photographing my life for two or three years. At times I was focused. It wasn’t so scatter brained. I had a purpose of what I was trying to do. Mind you it was things like sex, drugs and rock n’ roll because that’s what I was influenced by. I grew up loving skate and punk rock culture, and I guess I knew even when I first starting to take pictures in high school that I wanted my first thing, project, body of pictures, whatever, to be raw, in your face, a depiction of sensational partying and a carefree lifestyle.
Are you going to be a photographer when you graduate?
I’m trying to figure out where photography and making a living will meet for me or if that will ever be the case. Am I going to photograph, work on projects and strive to keep making better photographs? Yes.
You said to me that you’re interested in moving beyond photographing yourself and friends, “personal projects”. Do you think this reflects anything larger about your interest in photography? There seems to have been lately an increased respect for ‘me’ photographs as an alternative to ‘traditional’ photojournalism of flying overseas to cover pressing international issues. Do you see any changes happening in the industry or the work of other photographers that you find interesting?
I’ve been influenced by so many different things but when I first started to really dive into photography, the photographers that interested me the most took me on a journey through their own life or of someone or the someone’s close to them. I think that was because of a lot of things, but mostly my age. When I had talked to you about this before I think I should have said I’m interested in doing something different just to change things up. I don’t really know if moving beyond photographing myself and the people in my life will ever happen or if it should for that matter, but I’m going to do other things as well to grow as a person.
I don’t really know about an increased respect for ‘me’ photographs. People have been doing that shit for years. To me, and most of the people I have great respect for, who are involved in photography in some way, shape or form, all photographs are equal, whether they are from home, a sporting event or world conflicts.
You mentioned something to me once about being able to ‘morph’ and fit in wherever you are photographing .. skate people, drugs, music. Maybe these mirror ‘phases’ in your own life. Tell me something about this idea, of how you personally work well with your subjects, how close you become to them.
I think my relationships with the people inside my photographs add something for sure, I think but I’m not sure if the work I’ve done so far tells a “story”. I think I’ve been fortunate to get help from other photographers and editors to get my collection of photographs on one topic from the past three years edited into different narratives but I’m not sure if they’re stories per say.
What do you take from multidisciplinary approaches to inspiration? What are you listening to or looking at that we should know about but probably don’t?
I think people should know about Austin Koester. He goes to school with me but this isn’t a friend plug. His work is great.
So is there a title that fits for these portfolios?
I think “Give Me Time” suits it best. Being that I’m still really trying to find myself behind the camera, and I think that comes across in my pictures, that I’m really still trying to figure what I’m trying to say.
I’ve been traveling and working a lot lately around Serbia in the last month, hence my lack of interesting posts, and I am taking off in a few hours for the Visa pour L’Image photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France. I’ll then be back in the United States (Seattle and New York City) from September 6 through October 24, before returning to Belgrade. If you’re in Perpignan and want to meet up, be sure to send me an email or track me down. Same if you’re in the States.
I also wanted to share a couple of places where my work has been published recently:
The New York Times Lens Blog published a feature about my project in Bosnia “This Time Tomorrow” to coincide with the 15th Anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in July. Please have a look at the nice piece that James Estrin put together.
The Sunday Times Magazine in London also published three pages of my project “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”, about the destruction of a Roma community in Belgrade. The article and web gallery are behind their paywall but you can see clips on my website.
I look forward to getting back to regular posting and sharing some of what I’ve been up to soon. Happy end of summer everyone!
I met Molly Landreth at a small workshop with photographer Jonas Bendiksen at Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle in January 2007. There was a mix of aspiring photographers as well as amateurs, some great work and some that wasn’t going anywhere. There was no doubt about Landreth though; she was showing the first wonderful portraits from a series that was to become Embodiment. Since then I’ve been following her work and the creative ways that she has been taking to develop, fund and show her project. This Spring I was reading about her latest push to raise money via Kickstarter.com which coincided with a number of awards and exhibitions of the project. We’ve been overdue for featuring Landreth’s work and insights so we invited her for a dvafoto interview. We hope you enjoy and consider supporting her project, and then be inspired to find innovative funding for your own work.
how did you decide to focus on one project for such a length of time?
Embodiment began as a purely photographic endeavor in 2005-2008, as I photographed friends and acquaintances to better understand my own place within the queer community as well as a chance to create beautiful representations of people I loved and respected. I had no idea that I would be starting in on a five year (or more!?) project that would one day include subjects from all over the country, an international collaborator, in depth video interviews and a innovative multi-platform outreach plan. I would have been terrified to even begin!
how is the work completed? how are you finding subjects?
I use a 4×5” camera to set up my photographs, Myspace + hundreds of key word searches to find project participants and a lot of deep breathing to work up the courage to barge into peoples lives and ask them to be open, honest and beautiful in front of my camera. It is a totally strange and insanely rewarding thing to do. My collaborator, Australian video artist Amelia Tovey, captures not only the story behind each portrait, but the process of creating the portrait itself; revealing the way a photograph and a personal history can unfold. Last June we went on a month long trip around the country to gather new footage; it was one of the most inspiring and rewarding adventures I’ve even been on. New work from Embodiment includes multi-media portraits of: a transsexual woman (who, before transitioning) served as a special units paratrooper during the Vietnam War, a gay evangelical preacher in Garland Texas, a bi-racial lesbian couple in Mississippi, a young Hollywood personality in Los Angeles, a teenage transgender boy living and transitioning in rural Wisconsin, and self-proclaimed Hillbillies living deep in the Ozark Mountains. It’s really exciting.
do you have concurrent projects going on? do you show other work or is your emphasis solely on Embodiment?
Right now Embodiment is a full time job so the only other shooting I’m doing is freelance & commercial work. However…I’m really excited about the day where I can finish this project and starting something completely different and new. I have three other concepts which are in the development and research stages that I’m super excited about digging into.
are you working editorially at all, outside of this work?
For outside work, I do a lot of commissioned portraits as well as some consulting with other art photographers to assist them with their project development. I would love the chance to work editorially as well but I think being in Seattle is a little limiting in terms of those opportunities. …prove me wrong someone!
where are these images being seen?
Photographs and video installations from Embodiment are currently being exhibited in New York, Portland, Germany and Italy, with more multi-media exhibitions and artist talks in Los Angeles, England, and Australia later this year. Reaching the widest audience possible, including the vastly spread out community that Embodiment seeks to represent, is a fundamental value of this project. We understand that many of our subjects and our audience live in under-served communities who do not have access to these traditional exhibition spaces but for whom the Internet is widely available. So, with help from the money that we raise from our current fundraiser on Kickstarter.com, Amelia and I will reinterpret this vast body of work into an intimate and widely accessible on-line experience with portraits and stories released as weekly episodes. We aim to launch the website in late 2011.
what has the reaction been from the queer community, from your subjects or anything more organized, about your project? what is your goal, your mission statement, if any?
Our goal for this project is really basic. Explore what it means to be queer in America today and make complex and beautiful portraits in the process. The reaction from LGBTQ communities and allies has been incredible. I get letters all the time, especially teenagers from non-typically “gay friendly” areas, thanking us for making the work. Many people say that it’s the first time they’ve seen representations of queers that they can relate to and be proud of. It’s really amazing to be a part of that.
where does this fit on a continuum of ‘journalism/art/advocacy’, and what are your thoughts on these labels? I’m seeing a lot more projects that blur these lines, and often it is the more interesting work that does it. Is it important to you, or your subjects, or your audience (do you think), how you contextualize these photos?
I want this work to be a part of all of that! By creating work that would only fit into one of those categories I would really put constraints on what is possible. It’s a blend of lots of different methods of working…which in itself is a little queer. It’s not about defining or explaining one thing or another but rather it’s about raising questions and opening up new opportunities of expression.
what has been your strategy for funding this work, and how has it changed over time? What is the next step in this process, what more do you need to ‘finish’ the work, and what form do you think that will take?
To date, this project has been made possible with the support from The School of Visual Arts (New York, NY) and with grants from The American Consulate (Germany), Humble Art Foundation (New York, NY), and Artist Trust (Seattle, WA). I am also a recent recipient of a Kodak Film Grant through the fantastic blog “Too Much Chocolate” (Portland, OR) and we have recently been granted fiscal sponsorship from Seattle based “Three Dollar Bill Cinema.” Right now Amelia and I are attempting to raise $10,000 dollars (and beyond!) with the help of the fundraising site Kickstarter.com.
We have 65 days left to raise the money and have already reached 77% of our goal. (Update: Since this interview Landreth and Tovey’s project has reached their original goal and they’ve readjusted their sights for 200% of their original funding). For each level of sponsorship (even just a $5 donation) you can get prizes in return like signed prints, road trip mixes, homemade postcards, etc. It’s a great way for friends and project supporters to make a big difference in the success of the project. Most of our project backers are queer youth from all over the world who just totally understand the need for this type of work and are willing to give what little money they have to support it. It’s pretty awesome. With the 100% that we’ve raised we’re going to hire a website designer to create the site which will host the project and the weekly “episodes” and it will also pay for the time we need to take to edit all of the footage. If we raise 200% (which we really want to do!!) we will be able to head back out on the road and create more work to share with all of you; including a gay/lesbian rodeo in Colorado, a lesbian sorority in Memphis, and many more really interesting communities and individuals.
To see our promotional video, donate or learn more about the future of this project please visit our page on Kickstarter.
Thanks to Molly and Amelia for showing the work, I look forward to posting updates on the project from here. It will be great to see the final website presentation with their combined efforts.
I first met Eric Kayne here in Seattle in the summer of 2007 while was interning at the Seattle Times, and we’ve been staying in touch ever since. He’s currently a contract photographer in Houston, Texas at the Chronicle. As most know, there was a big storm – Hurricane Ike – that rolled through and devastated parts of Houston a few weeks ago. I was keeping in contact, as best I could, with Eric in the run up and aftermath of the storm and I thought he would be a terrific person to bring on for a DVA interview, to tell you a little bit about his amazing story and his work as a newspaper photographer in Texas. He has had a very different path through photography than either of us here at DVA and probably more winding than most of our readers. Without adieu..
(This is a long one, but Eric has a lot of wonderful history and stories to tell, so I’ve left it as-is. be sure to continue after the jump!)
Tell me about your life as a photographer. Where did you start, how did you get to where you are now?
It wasn’t a straight line from there to here. I started making pictures when I was 13. It was a combination of experiences. I took a black-and-white photography class in sixth grade and loved it. I also wanted to have an excuse to hang out with my older brother and all his skater friends. Photography from then on was an on-again, off-again experience. I actually got kicked out of a photo class in high school because I couldn’t stop making jokes. Later, the teacher entered one of my photos in a contest without asking me and it won. Go figure.
I got back into it after high school. I was living in San Francisco and was having a chat with an uncle. Not having much direction in my life at that time, he asked me to make a list of the things I was interested in. The only two things to make the list were playing drums and photography. I enrolled at the Academy of Art College (I think its called something else now).
The level of work and the seriousness of the students was something new for this provincial Texas boy and really opened my eyes. I was exposed to Winogrand, Weston, Friedlander, and many others through the curriculum. I had no idea one could do such things with a photograph. I lasted a semester until the money ran out and I had to go back to Texas.
I jumped around through two different state universities, one art school and two community colleges before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin. The plan was to get a degree in something practical like computer science so I could graduate and pay my own way through art school. Long story short, I’m the world’s worst computer programmer and I ended up earning a BA in studio art.
I had no plans after school. I moved to New York City without a clue. When I got to my new home at a fourth-floor walk-up in Spanish Harlem, situated right next to a burned-out building, I knew if I didn’t find something I could only do in New York, I would last two weeks, tops. I literally opened the phone book to “photo agencies” and saw the word “Magnum.” They happened to be interviewing for interns and I made the cut somehow. A couple of memories: Bruce Gilden coming in and always having little packages of M&M’s to hand out to everyone, especially the interns, and James Nachtwey walking in with a copy of Inferno hot off the presses. Myself, a couple of editors and his assistant at the time and now amazing photojournalist Samantha Appleton watched as he turned each page. I was stunned by the images. James talked about how pleased he was with the printing.
After that, I spent the summer of 2000 at the Maine Photographic Workshops working as the “E-6 Process Manager.” Quite a fancy title, but mostly I spent my time dropping in on all the photo classes. Pretty sweet summer. By that time, however, I had started to notice the deficiencies in my education. I knew how to print and tone an image in a darkroom, but I knew nothing about Photoshop.
I moved back to my hometown, got a jobby-job at a photo lab and started asking around at San Antonio College, the local community college, about Photoshop classes. The photo advisor, Tricia Buchhorn, said she’d teach me Photoshop if I would work at the school’s newspaper, The Ranger. Long story short, I loved it.
I pretty much haven’t looked back since. I parlayed a year and a half at the The Ranger into a part-time staff job at the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, situated just outside San Antonio. Its a small 6,000 circulation paper that actually used to publish in German up until the 1950′s. A few months into it, we had national news when persistent rains topped the spillway at a local dam. Major flooding ensued. I remember traipsing through mud up to my knees, looking across the street and seeing AP photographer Eric Gay. I felt like I was in my element.
That job turned into a full-time staff job at a sister paper 50 miles south of Houston in Clute, Texas at The Facts. After ten months there, the siren’s song from California called me back. I lived on a beach at the mouth of Tomales Bay for two years in a village called Dillon Beach. I freelanced intermittently for the Marin Independent Journal, but my main source of income was from delivering milk for an organic creamery. I stayed involved with the local photography community there, which is very strong. I began to realize major deficiencies in my work, especially after a life-changing meeting with Jim Merithew, who was a picture editor at the San Francisco Chronicle (I think he’s a picture editor at Wired magazine now.) I had no visual voice and my work looked like every other guy or gal’s on the wire. Most important, I had no stories. I had the standard news, features, etc., but unlike what I had learned at the community college where I cut my teeth, the basics won’t cut it anymore if I wanted to work at the places where my ambition was pointing me.
I decided to go to grad school to help fill in the gaps. I chose the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University for a number of reasons, but most of all, it was the work that students in that program had created while there, and the success that followed once they left school.
It must have worked since two years later, I have three internships under my belt (San Antonio Express-News, The Seattle Times and The Dallas Morning News) and am employed as a contract staff photographer at the Houston Chronicle.
How is life as a newspaper photojournalist. What is great, what would you prefer was different?
You know, its really hard to complain when I make pictures for a living. Everyday I get to go out and practice my craft and put a window on the community I live in. Houston is such an interesting, diverse and lively city, I love the people and all the different communities I get to explore. That and the fact that Houston is such a newsy town. At the time I asked him, our director of photography, Steve Gonzales, who used to be the director of photography in Kansas City, said he would have been lucky to have just one of the five or six stories we’ve had in the last month and a half in a six month period in Kansas City.
If there was something I preferred was different, I would have to say long-term documentary story-telling. I’ve only been there since February, but it seems that it’s not something that’s part of the culture at the Houston Chronicle. I’m not saying it can’t be in the future, but photographs happen on their own time. There’s just so much news here, though, and I guess that trumps all other matters. Nonetheless, I’m just as happy shooting dailies as I am long-term stories. However, there are stories that aren’t being told because of this.
Why are you a photographer?
Because retail sucks. That’s both a joke and the truth. I’ve had just about every jobby-job you can think of, and I have to say nothing brings me satisfaction like making a picture that tells a story, is well-seen and is printed in the paper the next day. It never gets old.
(More Pictures and words after the jump)
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