Visualizing Change

A good behind the scenes look into how The Guardian is changing the way they use images in stories about climate change.

I think this is an incredibly important discussion to have for many of the reasons they denote – we all feel bad about the polar bear, but it doesn’t impact most of our daily lives and so, after a few moments of sadness, we move on. The emotional connection may be there but it doesn’t persist, we aren’t reminded of it as we go about our daily lives.

Images need to educate us about what is happening and resonate with us – that persistence idea is so critical. And the same applies to images in other stories – wars, man made disasters, natural disasters and even images of poverty. If the images don’t look like the things we deal with on a daily basis, then we are, effectively, othering the story which disconnects us from it.

This may be why I’m attracted to images of the vernacular, images of the everyday things in our lives. The work of photographers like Walker Evans and Fred Herzog intrigues me because it shows me the common things in life, the things I feel I may have or might still experience. It connects me, it shows something that is not other than what I am used to.

But this is incredibly hard to do. The impacts of climate change are both enormous and subtle. Massive storms are easy to visualize yet difficult to contextualize. The smaller, daily impacts can be easier to explain but harder to show. What does a 1.5 degree shift in average temperature look like? It is far too easy to get drawn into the extremist traps, leaving us with polar bears alone. We must do better.

Land is cleared in Athens, Georgia, to build a new gas station. Even as fuel economy increases, fueling locations are becoming more common. (Photo/Mark E. Johnson)

NPPF Scholarships

The National Press Photographers Foundation has opened applications for their annual scholarship programs. Deadline is on December 2, but why wait that long?

The Importance of Design in Cameras

The designed Luigi Colani died recently. While that New York Times obit deals with many things, it doesn’t do justice to the work he did with Canon in the 1980s – he is credited with the design of the T90, the first truly modern SLR camera.

Look at that camera – introduced in 1986, almost every DSLR of today owes a debt to its purposeful, organic and humanist design. That was the camera that truly moved manufacturers away from the dedicated dials and knobs and started to take full advantage of microprocessors.

In the mid-1980s, that was one of the cameras we all lusted after. A beautiful piece of kit that was truly revolutionary.

Over at The Online Photographer, Adam Richardson has a nice tribute to Colani.

Turning Dust Into Stories

I’m going to be ordering another book … photographer Jessica Wynne’s project on the chalkboards of professors was written up in The New York Times and I’m fascinated by this. There’s an evidentiary nature to this work, the residue of work … I just love this and have encouraged The Red & Black to think about this sort of a project on campus.

We Can’t Even Trust the Canadians Anymore

The Canadian Green Party has been caught editing a photo of the party’s leader, Elizabeth May – they added in a logo and a reusable straw.

All the technology at our disposal and this is what we do with it …

NPPA Student Quarterly Clip Contest

For all the students out there, the National Press Photographers Association Student Quarterly Clip Contest deadline is coming up on October 15. This is for images made in July, August and September.

And We’re Back …

After being down for a month (long story and, while I gravitate towards long stories, I really don’t want to talk about this one), Visual Journalism is back up and running.

Mostly.

We did lose all of the Category assignments for the last 12 years worth of posts. Hoping we can recover them, but I think that may be a bridge too far at this point.

New posts coming soon, it’s nice to have this corner of the web back to myself again.

She Learned to Hear by Seeing

I love this quote from The New York Times story on the late Ida Wyman:

Taking pictures enabled me to hear the stories of the people I photographed.

Listening is such an integral part of journalism – if we cannot listen it is incredibly difficult to see the stories unfolding in front of us. And listening is a very different act than hearing. Listening is an active state, it involves attention and intention. We listen when we are immersed in conversation, we hear without that sense of purpose.

In studying her work, that sense of purpose is there – her street photography/feature photos are nuanced and layered, they are not casual observations. They reveal something about a place. Look at the image of the men studying the newspaper in Hebrew, or the man looking into the garbage can on the pier. Those are not one-dimensional frames, they required her to actively see those scenes, to watch them evolve.

I’m pondering what the parallel phrases are for seeing now. Watching vs. seeing? Open to suggestions here.

Photographing Apollo 11

This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen online, if you’re a space geek, you’re about to lose part of your morning.

Building a Sense of Place at Woodstock

The New York Times takes a look at the (ahem) three rolls of film Roger Ballen exposed at Woodstock, 50 years ago.

This exchange alone makes it worh a read:

You’ve said that so much of photography is actually rooted in having experiences and not just sitting behind a camera or computer.

Yeah, this is the truth of the matter. When I grew up in photography, it was about getting on the street, experiencing events, getting in the middle of things, coming back with the goods and the experience to talk about.

It is very easy to think so much about where photographs go, so much so that we can lose sight of the magic needed during the process. If we are not immersed in the moment, we can’t fully understand and appreciate the event and that will lessen our understanding.