Category At Work

Being Prepared to Cross the Streams

Very nice post by Sid Ceaser over at DEDPXL on being prepared.

Why the odd title? Go read and find out.

You can’t cross the streams unless you take a chance.

A Politician Documents Politicians

Short piece by the Washington Post’s Jackie Kucinich on Senator Patrick Leahy’s photo exhibit. Towards the end of the video is a nice segment about how he’s the only one photographing president’s actually signing documents – it’s a nicely different perspective.

Are Amateurs the Enemy?

There has been much consternation over the last, oh … 15 years … about the rise of the amateur and how he or she is impacting the profession of photojournalism. It is true that may photojournalists succeeded solely on their technical skills as photographers. Those are the ones who are most worried.

As camera technology has advanced, the expertise needed to make high technical quality images has diminished. Today’s cameras combine superb autofocus systems, stunningly accurate exposure systems and stellar chip performance. Many of our skills in reading light, balancing exposure and nailing focus have been automated, enough so that anyone with a large enough credit limit can enter the field in theory.

Over at Time’s Lightbox blog, Olivier Laurent takes on the question of whether amateurs are truly hurting our profession.

The answers may surprise you … and I agree with them. Photojournalism has never been about photography, it has been about story. I tell my students that the two hardest part of this calling have nothing to do with cameras, lenses or software – it’s where to point the camera and when to push the button.

A few years ago, Sprint ran a truly horrifying commercial where they talked about, “a billion roaming photojournalists.” Catchy, perhaps, and the spot has all of the up-swelling music and vibrant images you could ask for. But it was a lie.

Yes, a world full of camera-toting amateurs will capture a wide range of the human experience, but is that photojournalism? When the bombs went off inside the London subway tunnels in 2005 and two people started shooting photos, that was documentation. It was also – and this is not to denigrate the images or the photographers – low hanging fruit. The situation presented itself and they recorded it.

Is reporting something journalism? I have always held that journalism has a higher level of responsibility, to go beyond what happened and explain why it happened and what it means.

Will amateurs do that? Will they put the time into finding the source of stories, the beginnings of an event? No, probably not – they have other jobs and other responsibilities.

So how do we, as a profession of photojournalists, handle this? We do what we have always done – we tell stories that matter.

That’s it, that’s the secret – tell stories that people must see, tell stories that no one else is willing to put the effort into telling. It’s complex and it’s expensive, but more or technically better pictures isn’t the answer, it’s better stories. It’s stories that inform, stories that educate and stories that resonate.

Photoshelter Deal for Students

To all the students heading back to campus, PhotoShelter has a deal for you – a year of free services and a massive 70% off the second year.

If you don’t have a solid web presence yet, this is the time to get working on it.

Many Faces of the Same Man

There has been a lot written about the death of Robin Williams over the last few days, much of it touching upon nerves that run deep within me.

As a visual journalist, one of our challenges is sharing the personality of our subjects with our audience and Krystam Grow over at Time’s Lightbox blog has given us six images of Mr. Williams and snippets from the photographers who made them.

“This Is My Job”

David Carson, a staff photojournalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was caught up in the riots in Ferguson, Missouri and the Poynter Institute’s Kristen Hare has the story.

Note his comments on other news organizations offering him credit for his photos …

Disclosure: Carson and I went to the same small high school together many, many years ago. That same small high school also produced former CNN correspondent Alphonso Marsh who broke the story of Saddam Hussein’s capture. Something in the water up there …

Monster Marks

First, disclosure: I have been friends with CJ Gunther for two decades. Was even in his wedding. I’m also an unabashed Red Sox fan who cherished my nine years of Fenway Park coverage.

So when I see that my buddy CJ’s project on baseball impressions on the Green monster is being featured on National Geographic’s Proof blog … well, I’m going to share that.

We were kids when we started at the Associated Press, CJ has come a long way since then and I’m still thrilled by his work.

Two Days in the Bubble

Ben Garvin of the Pioneer Press gives us a sense of what it’s like to join the president’s pool for a couple of days.

The camaraderie and support he talks about is nice to hear, very easy to become self absorbed on that beat.

Four Photographers Named as National Geographic Explorers

The National Geographic Society has their first set of visual storytellers to be added to their Explorers program. Previous Explorers have come primarily from areas of science, research and innovation.

David Guttendelder, Lyn Johnson, Cory Richards and Brian Skerry will spend two years, “sharing their visual expertise with diverse areas of the National Geographic Society and with the public, producing stories, sharing their storytelling knowledge with other explorers, and bringing the Society’s mission to illuminate, teach, and inspire the world at large” according to a story on the National Press Photographers Association’s site.

Something to Hold Over Their Heads – Education

Three years ago, independent journalist Phillip Datz was ordered to leave a public street where a police stop was occurring. After moving, he called the Suffolk County Police Department’s public information officer who told him, essentially, he was fine. When he started to record again, Suffolk County Police Sergeant Michael Milton arrested him.

Earlier on the recording Sergeant Milton said, “There’s nothing you can hold over my head or anybody out there.” Turns out, he wasn’t quite right.

Datz filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and the Suffolk County Police Department has now settled the suit for $200,000 and – more importantly – agreed that all of its officers must now go through annual First Amendment training.

The money is nice, the education is priceless.