Gordon Parks, Back to Fort Scott

This was posted two years ago, but it’s still worth putting in a little time: A collection of images Gordon Parks made for Life magazine about segregation.

It’s about both access and understanding the story you’re trying to tell, both are needed to succeed.

Photojournalism’s Future

Two interviews that James Estrin did this week at The New York Times Lens blog have had me pondering the future of photojournalism.

Up first was an interview with Donald Winslow, the editor emeritus of the National Press Photographers Association’s News Photographer magazine and a long-time supporter of photojournalism.

A few days later, Leslye Davis, a staffer at the Times, stopped in to talk with Estrin about her views and they were almost the polar opposite.

I’ve known Mr. Winslow for a long time and have had many wonderful discussions with him – his encyclopedic knowledge of our craft’s history and the characters within it is unmatched, his passion and commitment unquestionable.

But Leslye Davis is my new hero:

Before pens and paper were accessible people were carving their ideas into stone tablets. I bet when pen and paper came along the writers were skulking around grumpy like, “now everybody thinks they’re a writer.”

I was part of that golden age, at least the very end of it. It was thrilling and important, helping my communities better understand themselves.

It was also staggeringly limiting – sometimes you needed to hear someone’s voice to understand, sometimes you needed to see how someone moved within their realm to understand. We can do that now.

For many years, we took the easy route, covering the obvious events for our daily deadlines. Every now and then, we’d get to do the deep dive story and really be a full fledged Storyteller.

Today, social media feeds fill the need of the instantaneous this-is-happening void. We, who are devoted to the craft, can now focus on the Why, not just the What, the How that explains the Where and the When. We get to deal with the Who as a complete portrait, not just a two-dimensional series of inked dots.

The golden age of photojournalism, limited to and by those who had access to the gold, has passed. In its place we get to build an organic, comprehensive and democratically necessary era of visual storytelling.

And that phrasing is specific – we need to Build this. There are many challenges, but isn’t that what photojournalist deal with everyday?

Dorothe Lange’s Internment Camp Images

In 1942, Dorothea Lange was hired to document the collection and internment of Japanese-Americans. The images she made, owned by the government, were considered not suitable for publication and impounded, lost in the National Archives until 2006.

Now, Anchor Editions has collected a bunch of them together, some of which you can order prints of for your own wall.

Whether you buy a print for your wall or not is irrelevant, look at the story being told her. Powerful images.

Seeking Visual Truth

Screen Shot 2017 01 17 at 12 59 44 PM

This piece ran on The New York Times’ Lens blog last month but I held it until now. John Morris has had more to do with how we visualize our world than, perhaps, almost else and yet no one knows who he is.

“If they no longer think truth is important, that’s the end of journalism,” Mr. Morris said. “It’s a very serious situation. I hope for the best but am fearing the worst.”

What’s Important Is the Next Picture

Nice, short interview with Bruce Davidson at Time’s Lightbox blog where he talks about his 1959 photographs of a Brooklyn gang.

Want to get images this intimate? Follow this advice:

I was close and I stayed longer.

Worth sticking through the pre-roll ad.

White House News Photographer Association Student Contest


Tis the season to seek out fame and, possibly, fortune … the White House News Photographer Association’s Student Contest is accepting entries until February 1.

There is a $25 fee to enter, but that can be applied towards a student membership … which is also $25. So, you can join and enter for the same $25 bucks. Not a bad deal.

Arbus, Avedon and Winogrand Images in Atlanta

This is on my list of things to get to … the High Museum of Art in Atlanta has an exhibit of work from Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and Garry Winogrand up through February 26.

Alexia Foundation Entries Now Being Accepted

The Alexia Foundation has opened their call for grant applications for both professional and student entries. The professional prize is worth $20,000, the student prize is a semester’s undergraduate tuition at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University – that’s worth about $21,000.

Professional deadline is January 31, student deadline is February 14. There’s no fee for students to enter, $50 for pros.

Disclaimer: I am a twice-peeled Syracuse alum and worked for the foundation while I was a graduate student. The foundation was created by the parents of Alexia Tsairis, one of 35 SU students who were killed in December 1988 when a terrorist exploded a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. I was a first-semester student then and Alexia was a promising photojournalism student returning from a semester studying in London.

Castro In Photographs

The morning brought news that Fidel Castro had died at the age of 90. A click to The New York Times brought me to this video that has some of the amazing work that Jack Manning did during a short trip to Cuba in 1964. Even if you turn the sound down (which I don’t recommend you do, as Richard Eder’s story is fascinating), the images are a text book example of how to document a person within their place and time. 

Peter Turnley Print Sale

If you were looking for a gift for your favorite professor or decided this was the time to invest in artwork, head over to Peter Turnley’s print sale

There’s a lyrical sense to his work that I have loved for decades. Yeah, they are expensive, but this is another revenue stream for wonderful documentary work. And #12 is just such a wonderful moment …