Author Mark E. Johnson

They Exist

Anderson Cooper interviewed the artist known as JR for 60 Minutes and it’s worth 14 minutes of your time. It’s not journalism, it’s art, but it’s interesting how he thinks about his transition from being a graffiti artist to doing these photo installations.

If you have a few more minutes, after the regular segment airs there’s an Overtime segment with a few surprises in it.

(Thanks to Janie Bohlmann for the link.)

Seeing Where You Are

For every photographer who has ever said they need to travel somewhere to make better images, for every journalist who has driven to work with windows up and music playing, you must read this piece by Neeta Satam on how to see stories ethically.

Next week, students in our Documentary Photojournalism course will head a little south for our 13th Annual Woodall Weekend Workshop, three days in one rural community telling its story. They will focus in on one project, working with ten professionals acting as editors, coaches and mentors.

There is nothing unique or special about the communities we choose for them to cover, they are everyday places full of everyday happenings – stories we need to see to understand who we are.

These are the stories of our backyard.

(Thanks to Sean Elliot for the link.)

From War to Fashion

Every now and then I come across someone I’ve never heard of and wonder how I missed them … Toni Frissell is the latest, as featured by Alan Taylor at The Atlantic.

Theres a simple elegance to her work that shows in the fashion and war work, clean compositions and nice moments.

Secrets About Secrets

The New York Times just published 15, 15 women who were never profiled at the time of their death, in a series titled Overlooked.

The controversial Diane Arbus, a portrait photographer who has been the center of photographic discussions since her 1971 suicide, is featured in a piece by James Estrin.

Her work raises a lot of questions about purpose and ethics – no one has ever referred to her as a journalist but her work does document a certain time and place in history. The question I always come back to with her images is whether they are about those she photographed or about her, the photographer, and her own journey.

Worth a few minutes of your time this morning.

A Narrow Slice if History

Hondros, a film about the late photojournalist Chris Hondros, is now open in select cities. Producer Greg Campbell, a friend of his, spoke with Christopher Booker for PBS News Hour.

Because I think Chris knew very well that there were also not a lot of happy endings after he snapped the shutter on his camera. And I’ve heard him say several times. That’s as much as journalists and photographers are recording history, it’s maybe more accurate to just say that they’re recording a very narrow slice of history. And there are usually some of the most traumatic events of a person’s life and I think Chris really wanted to follow up with stories to try to present a wider picture of what what occurred.

Reading the World Press Photo FInalists

Michael Shaw has an interesting take on the six World Press Photo finalists over at Reading the Pictures.

There is not one photo that begins a dialogue, that poses a question, that does anything other than hit us upside the head.

The question of what’s the purpose of an image is a long, deep one. Is it just to document?

My belief is that a great new photograph is designed to inform, to educate and to resonate.

On Creativity

This piece from Photo District News on Claire Rosen’s book Imaginarium is worth some time, even if just for this one quote:

Our culture has shifted in such a way that it’s easier to be a consumer of content rather than having individual experiences.

Think about that as you work on your stories – what can you show that can’t be seen elsewhere? There is no point in making images like everyone else, the distribution model is such that you can’t compete with obvious imagery, you have to go where others are not.

Automating the Copyright Infringement Search

Steven Melendez at FastCompany has an interesting piece up on two companies – Copypants and Pixsy – that are automating the search for copyright infringements online.

The technology (similar to Google’s and TinEye’s reverse image search) has the potential to be a powerful way to control how our images are used. The danger comes from how the process moves forward after finding a possible infringement – overly aggressive law firms could spur rollbacks of copyright protections in a worst-case scenario.

Now, if there were a way to get hosting platforms to tie into a reverse image search with the Copyright Office to stop the images from even getting posted, that could be a game changer – getting more people to register AND making potential infringers aware of what they are doing.

(Thanks to John Harrington for the link.)

Seeing Color in the Positive

My friend David LaBelle writes about meeting a shared hero, Gordon Parks, and one of his students who shares his vision.

Since my youth, I’ve always seen award winning photos that contained a person of color suffering. The positives are rarely shown. That has inspired me to attempt to change the narrative by photographing people of color in a positive light, via celebration or any other time their suffering is not being exploited.

The Value of Photo Editors

Nice piece over at National Geographic on the relationship between photo editors and photojournalists. This is a relationship we all need to understand, need to take advantage of and/or need to find for ourselves.