Love Letter to a Highway

My love of the open road is no secret – give me a camera, a tank of gas and maybe a map and I’m happy for hours, if not days. Stories about roads and travel resonate well with me, especially pieces like Kevin Liles’ tribute to Georgia Highway 83.

My commute is too short these days …

Appalachia, Poverty and Honesty

I’ll start with this: I’ve talked with the author, Roger May, of the piece I’m linking below about bringing the traveling exhibition Looking at Appalachia here to Athens and having him speak with my classes.

With that bit of disclosure, I’m recommending you go read his piece on Medium taking a look at how Vice handled two photo essays about Appalachia in their Photo Issue last month.

I find his criticism valid and I’ll confess to not really getting Bruce Gilden – his work is more about the shock of being photographed than letting me into his subject’s world. This comment by May really resonated with me:

There are photographers who want to be looked at and celebrated and there are photographers who want to see people and celebrate them through photography, in context, in a way that honors the people.

May did a segment with West Virginia Public Radio that is well worth 20 minutes of your day:

I understand that photography encompasses a very wide range – it’s one of the things I truly love about it. But whether it’s photography or banking, when you take advantage of someone for your own personal gain, leaving them with nothing … well, that’s not okay with me. Gilden’s images leave me with nothing, they feel stolen, they feel like he has used the subjects to say more about his brashness than their souls.

If they were paid models, so be it. But they weren’t, they were just living their lives when he made took those photos.

NPPA Helps to Write a New Taylor Swift Contract

Well, this is an interesting turn – the National Press Photographers Association, in conjunction with 13 other news entities, have helped re-write the contact given to photographers who are covering Taylor Swift’s current tour. NPPA’s general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher, took the lead in drafting the new agreement.

Is it perfect? Well … no. But it isn’t bad. The one thing that independent photographers would want is not allowed – the ability to relicense images. The new contract states that the images created can only be used by the publication that is requesting the credential. That’s not an issue for individual publications, but is a minor business problem for independents.

Still, very nice to see 14 organizations coming together for the benefit of photographers and being successful.

Go Wide for Context

Nice piece by Jordan G. Teicher at Slate that looks at the ultra wide angle work of Paolo Pellizzari.

Mr. Pellizzari uses a Noblex camera designed for ultra wide work, though it’s usually used for landscapes and group portraits, not sports. The way it lets you see the context in competition is particularly spectacular.

(Thanks to colleague Dr. Alan Campbell for the link.)

Stock Photo Fail: Political Tweet Edition

Stock photography is kind of the gift that keeps on giving. In the latest edition, the Donald Trump campaign tweeted out a patriotic image of the American flag with Mr. Trump, $100 bills, the White House and soldiers fading through it.

The problem: the soldiers are World War II Nazi historical re-enactors.

The Trump campaign has stated that an intern put the graphic together.

Lesson: Don’t use stock photography, spend the money and commission the work.

Transmitting Speeds

Okay all you kids out there – don’t ever complain about how slow your internet connection is. Ever.

When I began my Associated Press days, in 1993, the first transmitter I worked off of was a Leafax I, one of the earliest portable film scanners. It was wonderful … compared to the option of having to process film, dry it, edit it, then make a print of it, dry it, caption it and then transmit that.

The Leafax I would scan and transmit simultaneously. (The second generation had an added compander that would store images, the third iteration had that built in and was way faster.) In addition to taking about 21 minutes to send a color photo (while you prayed you had a clean transmission line as noise would kill the photo), you also had to tone it using a four inch black and white monitor.

Eventually I was able to use a Leafax II, then a Leafax III and I thought I’d hit heaven … I could send one photo in seven minutes, while scanning a second one. Talk about multitasking, heaven came in a big black case.

So, your gigabit on campus download speed is too slow? Get off my lawn …

A Photograph of Food That Actually Matters

Dan Charles has a startling photo over at NPR’s The Salt – perhaps the only photograph of a meal that is of historical significance

The details of life can be both mundane and fascinating, you never know what will be important later. Though that doesn’t mean we should publish everything we photograph, knowing what matters comes with understanding context and context takes time to develop.

POSTPONED – Management Seminar for Visual Editors

UPDATE: We have decided to postpone this event until the spring. More details as they develop.

150630 MSVEThis is coming up quick: Grady College and the National Press Photographers Association are co-sponsoring a Management Seminar for Visual Editors here in Athens next week.

Get ten hours of training on leadership, hiring practices, budgeting and helping your employees through crises. This is cheap training – $50 for NPPA members – and you can come to Athens on Saturday morning, leave early Sunday afternoon.

We will be looking at registration numbers this evening to make sure we have enough people signed up – if you’re a manager, new or old, or are thinking about it, get registered NOW.

Working for Free

It happened again: a new, local non-profit reached out and asked me to do some work for them or for access to my kids. Just a few hours worth of work and, since they’re a “non-profit,” they don’t have a budget but they can offer a meal at one of the nicest places in town in exchange …

No. I said no. I said no to doing it, I said no to passing it along.

With one caveat: I asked if everyone else was donating their time and supplies.

If they come back and say yes, then I will contribute or pass it along to my kids. (I love the restaurant, and I love the owner.)

Who would that include? For starters, the woman who is running this new non-profit would have to be a volunteer. The food suppliers involved would have to be donating their products. The delivery company would need to be donating their services. Whatever office space she’s working out of would need to be donated, as well as the utilities to keep her online. The web development team and hosting company would need to be donating their services, too.

Going to make a banner? Yep, that needs to be donated.

I believe in a lot of the social organizations around town. And, in a community with the highest poverty rate in the state, there are a lot of them to believe in. I also believe in pitching in to be part of the solution – and, so long as everyone else is, I’m even willing to bring my quarter century of experience and tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to help.

But photographers are a group that gets leaned on pretty hard to do work for free. After all, we already own the gear and, you know, it’s just some photos …

Maybe this person will come back and say, yes – everyone is donating everything, not a dollar is exchanging hands. If so, I’m in.

ADDENDUM, 11:45 AM: I’ve been mulling this some more, I have additional thoughts coming on this. I don’t want to come across as a jerk, but there’s a difference between asking someone to contribute to a cause they believe in and support versus asking someone to perform a service for free. Too often, we are approached without any thought to whether this cause is something we support – we are just seen as a needed service and, under the banner of, “we’re a non-profit,” there’s no thought to compensation.

The 2016 Presidential Primary Photo Faking Season Has Begun

Just a little ahead of schedule, it would seem to me … but there’s already a manipulated image of Hilary Clinton with a Confederate flag behind her making the rounds.

There should be an award for the best and worst faked photos this year.