Category At Work

The Moments in Between

Anderson Cooper did a segment for 60 Minutes on music photographer Danny Clinch.

His phrasing about looking for the moments in between, I concur that’s where the magic happens. Miss growing out of mouths are just not that interesting, but when someone gets lost in her music … that’s the moment.

Also, how cool is it that 60 Minutes is doing segments on photographers?

We’ve lost Bill Cunningham

The New York Times has reported that Bill Cunningham, its beloved fashion photographer, has passed. He was 87.

I am not a person overly concerned with fashion (just ask my wife or students), but I would dip into his work from time to time not so much to see what was trendy but because his approach to documenting fashion focused more on the people and how they used it to represent themselves then on the designers. His version of street photography was engaging and, as his editors said, highly ethical. That’s something to be admired.

“When I’m photographing,” Mr. Cunningham once said, “I look for the personal style with which something is worn — sometimes even how an umbrella is carried or how a coat is held closed. At parties, it’s important to be almost invisible, to catch people when they’re oblivious to the camera — to get the intensity of their speech, the gestures of their hands. I’m interested in capturing a moment with animation and spirit.”

In 2010, a documentary about him was made that he reluctantly appeared in. According to the Times article, he went to its premiere not to be a part of the show, but to document it. 

Doing Some Good

James Estrin has a nice piece up at The New York Times’ Lens blog about the work of Mel Rosenthal who documented the South Bronx in New York from 1976 to 1982. The limited number of images here is frustrating – I really want to see more.

It’s the reasoning behind these images that has me interested:

For Mel Rosenthal, there’s no point in taking a picture if it isn’t going to do some good in this world. Photographs, he said, have to connect with the community where they’re made, not just to be exhibited there but to engage residents in discussions.

The quotes from his former students (he taught at SUNY Empire State College) are things I hope my kids take away from my classes.

Secret Service Agent Throws Photojournalist to the Ground at Trump Event

A United States Secret Service agent choked and threw photojournalist Christopher Morris to the ground at a Donald Trump event in Virginia. It is unclear what provoked this response at this point in time, but it is phenomenally disturbing.

Mr. Morris has spent more than 40 years covering conflicts internationally and is a highly regarded photojournalist who was on assignment for Time.

How to Get Found

Photo District News has a collection of short interviews with photo editors talking about how they find photographers. Some good advice in these.

Cover Letter Don’ts

My friends down at the Poynter Institute just read 160 applications and decided to share what no one should do in those packages. As my kids go through the internship application process, this is required reading.

I do kind of wish is was a snarkier piece, though … I’ve sat through meetings at Poynter, there are some snarky folks there …

NPPA Seeks New Executive Director

Want to help lead the largest association for photojournalists out there? To be the voice of visual journalists? Have a lot of management experience? Or do you know someone who fits that description?

The National Press Photographers Association is looking for a new executive director. Come work here on the UGA for a great association (that is independent of the university). The NPPA relocated to my college last year, so you get to hang out with me.

Or not, depending on how you think about that …

Why Some Lenses Cost $1,799

We are at that point in the year where a bunch of kids are turning in their gear and need to go buy their own. It’s a wonderful support system we have here, but it also shelters them from understanding the costs of this stuff.

Which means when they finally wander over to one of the online retailers and start pricing lenses and bodies, they … uhhh … freak out. As do their parents. And then I get the questions about how they bought a camera and TWO lenses at Costco for $449 last year, why does this one lens cost $2,000?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. The first being because those consumer level lenses are optically slow and terrible for low light situations. Second, they’re pretty poorly made. If you’re photographing birthdays and vacations, they’re great. But if you’re going to make your living off of them and use them for hours and hours every day, they’re not going to hold up.

So how are the good lenses built? Take a look at this post by Roger Cicala on what’s inside the $1,799 Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4 II lens. The care taken to engineer this piece of glass is just staggering …

(Thanks to Michael Johnston of The Online Photographer for the link.)

Finding Your Color

I have a small list of photojournalists who never disappoint me, storytellers who always make me stop and stare, ponder what they’re showing me, force me to rearrange the neurons in my brain. Michael S. Williamson of the Washington Post is on that list. For years I’ve come back to his work, to his way of seeing, to understand my world and, maybe, dip into his pool of vision.

Jim Colton has a stellar interview up with Williamson at ZPhotoJournal – well worth spending time on. It’s a long, deep read, but the advice it builds to at the end is spectacular:

I would tell young people “Don’t be afraid.” And I don’t want to hear anybody under 40 talking about their “STYLE.” Your style just comes as a result of what you love and what loves you. If you are thinking about style, I will take a bb gun and pop you in the shin…I really will. Because then you are trapped by some “LOOK” some “WAY” of the way YOU see it.

And you know something, when you’re 22, I don’t really care about the way you see it. I want you to cover the event…so I know what happened. Of course, at some point, you mix the two, you can have your vision…you can have a take on life…just don’t forget who you are working for.

Yeah, a lot of his social media images are filtered, but the core vision in them … I hope to see something so well some day.

Walter Iooss, Jr., on College Football

Nice collection of images by the legendary Walter Iooss, Jr., from his early days covering college football. This was pre-autofocus, pre-14 frames per second, pre-64 GB memory cards, pre-histogram. Old school – manual focus, manual exposure, shooting on chrome film so the exposure has to be perfect in the camera.

Ahh, those were the days …

And if you scroll down, there’s another Iooss piece with him talking about his Super Bowl photos that’s worth a look.

What you notice about the photo is the facial expressions. With those single bar masks, you can see so much more of the humanity of the game. You don’t see anything today. It’s all covered up. The other thing that’s striking is the natural light. Playing an outdoor game in daylight gives you such a sense of place. When you play in a dome in Dallas or New Orleans, it kind of sucks the reality out of the game.

(Thanks to Cody Schmelter for the link.)