Category At Work

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.

When Assisting Means Employed

David Walker at Photo District News has taken a look at several legal issues related to large-scale photo shoots, ones where “assistants” are routinely hired to help with the production.

The common industry term “assistants” means something different in New York and California. Most of us think of assistants as independent contractors, paid a flat rate to work on a shoot. In two states, it means they are employees and have to be paid at the end of the day, with taxes taken out and have a workers’ comp and unemployment insurance in place.

That is a game changer for a lot of budgets. This is worth a close read.

“I am not useful for my camera if I die.”

Karam Shoumali told the story of Syrian photojournalist Hosam Katan on The New York Times’ Lens blog a few months back, it’s worth reading to understand how Syrian journalists have covered and been affected by the war there.

Getting the Big Picture, Leaving a Legacy

A wonderful piece by a gentleman whose work I admire and whose character I deeply respect – Billy Howard writes about making a group photo at a summer camp and becoming part of the camp’s legacy.

Too often we drop into people’s lives, quickly assess what makes them who they are and then dash off. If the photo succeeds, if it wins awards, maybe we get to stand on a platform in a darkened room before our peers and share our experience of how we made the image. But how often do we consider what it was like to have been on the other side of the image? What did that experience mean?

Mr. Howard knows for those he photographed last summer wrote a song about it.

The Year in Pictures, Then and Now

Allen Murabayashi compares The New York Times’ 2008 and 2017 Year in Pictures presentations over at the PhotoShelter blog.

The differences in technical quality and how images are toned are substantial. The evolution of digital cameras I seen through greater resolution, dynamic range and low light sensitivity, but the way photographers are handling post-processing is really evident. Tools that were not available a decade ago now have a significant impact on the look of news photographs.

Personal Boundaries

The Deer Center for Journalism and Trauma interviewed nine female journalists about the issues they have faced in the field and how to deal with them. This should be required viewing for everyone who is a member of the media or who interacts with the media.

So, essentially, everyone on the planet.

(Thanks to alum and friend of the program Minla Shields for the link.)

McCullin in Kolkata


Yes, this is a PR piece from Canon Europe. Yes, it’s designed to get you interested in spending many, many dollars on Canon gear.

But it’s Don McCullin talking about the way he makes images while he makes images in Kolkata.

Look Versus Feel

The New York Times’ Todd Heisler writes about covering tragic events like the church shooting in Texas.

Because of this, it is important to make images that go beyond grief and crime scenes. Step back. Give a sense of place. Show not just what a scene looks like but, more important, what it feels like. 

That last part – about making images that show what stories feel like … that’s the goal!, that’s always the goal. My friend Billy Weeks puts it this way: “Photos of something vs. photos about something.”

You can spend your career making photographs of things and, if you’re technically competent and reasonably personable, you can have a decent career I suspect. I’ll admit my early years fell into that category – I was a good photographer, always made a usable image and was easy to work with. I look back on some of those stories from the start of my career and I’m not always sure anyone would feel anything. They’d know what happened, but they might not care deeply about it. Lots of record shots, a recording of what was before me.

That’s where my students start because it’s where we all start. Master the mechanics, figure out the aesthetics, put it into practice in the field. Figure out what the story is, figure out who the story matters to, find the character that helps us understand and then make an image that will make an emotional connection, make someone who wasn’t there, who doesn’t know, feel something.

That’s the real challenge in photojournalism. It isn’t about getting sharp photos, it isn’t about getting proper exposures. It isn’t about having the right lens or the newer sensor or the better job at the bigger publication. Every time we raise a camera to our eye, regardless of who is before it or who will look at it, it is our responsibility to make an image that lets a viewer know what that moment feels like.

That’s when the power of photojournalism becomes ours,

Ready for Anything

The Associated Press’ Lauren Easton talked with photojournalist Jacquelyn Martin about the photo of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the sheet of dollar bills not carrying his name.

We don’t orchestrate these things. As a photojournalist, I show up and photograph what happens in front of me. You really have to be ready for anything in Washington.

The History of Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier took the photographic community by storm several years ago, long after she had produced an astounding body of work.   Now, researcher Ann Marks has shared some of what she has learned with the Associated Press, shedding new light on Maude’s work

(Thanks to Susan Walsh for the lead.)