Pretending To Be Humans Of New York
Monday, September 22, 2014
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you're probably familiar with the outstanding blog of photographer Brandon Stanton known as "Humans of New York." The site's purpose is simple: Stanton photographs people he encounters on the streets of New York City, and publishes their portraits alongside a bit of text—usually a quote from the subject on something meaningful in their life. The site is a tremendous, humanizing use of portrait photography, and it's become super popular. This makes it the perfect subject for satire, which is what a couple of comedians have done with their new video, "Pretending to be Humans of New York." In the "Prank Dial" video, a fairly obnoxious dude walks around with his camera telling people "I'm Humans of New York." They mostly react, as you might expect, in awe of the newly famous photographer and his wonderful work. The man then proceeds to make a fool of himself—and sometimes his unwitting accomplices too—by walking away from them mid-story, or by photographing extreme close-ups of their noses and the backs of their heads. I must admit I laughed pretty hard; the video is funny, if just a little bit mean. For your own chuckle at the expense of some folks who thought they were going to become internet famous, check the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAfCES83uA4
National Geographic’s First Wildlife Photos
Friday, September 19, 2014
National Geographic magazine has always been full of pretty pictures of the natural world, has it not? Actually, it has not. The first wildlife photographs were published in National Geographic back in 1906, and they caused such a scandal that two prominent board members resigned in disgust, arguing that their beloved publication was turning into "nothing more than a picture book." The photos published more than 100 years ago were by George Shiras III, who pioneered an ingenious technique for photographing wildlife at night with the aid of a canoe and a powerful strobe. The photographer would paddle across a lake in silence and if he heard any sounds nearby he would point his camera in that direction and fire away. He also developed a camera trap system, which has today become a popular method for capturing animals unperturbed by human presence. Shiras was a conservationist who advocated for replacing traditional gun hunting with "camera hunting," and he counted noted hunter President Theodore Roosevelt among his supporters. Read all about the fascinating tale, and see a lot of images from that notable 1906 issue of National Geographic, at PetaPixel.com.
ImageBrief Reinvents The Stock Photo Licensing Model
Thursday, September 18, 2014
There's a new stock photography licensing service called ImageBrief. Unlike seemingly every other stock photo site out there, this one appears to be actually empowering for photographers. Why? Because art directors and designers input their search terms in very straightforward language—such as "young man on beach looking into sunset"—and that request is sent to photographers who have signed up for their service. The photographers then check their archives and find these very specific images that would be nearly impossible to find via the standard stock approach. Photographers can sign up for ImageBrief and, if they do it soon, be entered to win a dream photo shoot courtesy of ImageBrief, Adorama and the International Center of Photography. The winner of the sweepstakes—which is entered simply by joining ImageBrief and referring two additional photographers—will receive a new DSLR (up to $3,000 in value) and complimentary travel and accommodations worth up to $5,000. Where's the dream destination? Because it's the winner's own dream shoot, it's going to be different for everyone. When you enter, you'll stipulate your ideal destination. Entrants have already submitted things like, "I would love to photograph the migration across the Okavango River," and "My dream shoot is capturing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland." It's a fun idea for a contest, and it sure seems like ImageBrief is the kind of stock photography licensing partner that photographers would do well to work with. Learn more, about ImageBrief and the sweepstakes, via my link below. I signed up last week, and have been enjoying perusing the daily requests. The more you enter the contest, the better chance I have of winning my own personal dream photo shoot—a week in the Mediterranean. So hurry up and enter today!
Are Your Favorite Sports Photos Stolen?
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
There's an interesting story unfolding in the world of high-profile photographic copyrights. According to a really interesting article in The Atlantic, even photographers who cover NFL football for the Associated Press and Getty Images, both of which have or had exclusive contracts with the NFL, are suing the agencies and the league charging that they have knowingly misused their copyrighted photographic works without compensation. The lawsuit alleges that the NFL was granted complimentary use of thousands of images for everything from low-profile web galleries to high-profile ad campaigns—even a multiple-stories-tall image of players that was used outside of Texas Stadium to welcome visitors to the 2011 Superbowl. As the photographers are paid a cut of any licensing fees for the images they create, when the agencies for whom they work don't charge their clients for the use of those images, the photographers aren't paid for their work. And they're understandably calling that unpaid usage a violation of their copyrights. Ultimately it's a pretty unique situation because of the exclusive contracts between the NFL and the picture agencies. The disagreement, it seems to me, amounts to an alleged simple breach of contractual obligations between the agencies and the photographers they rely on, but it's still got wide ranging ramifications for anyone who tries to sell their photographic work for profit. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. For a great in-depth analysis of the story so far, check out The Atlantic Monthly article via the link below.
The Dangerous Practice Of Rooftopping
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Have you ever heard of "rooftopping"? It's the practice of climbing atop a tall building—usually a skyscraper—and putting yourself in a precarious position to shoot pictures from some very dangerous, albeit unique, perspectives. If you've ever seen a photo of feet dangling off the edge of a building with a city street unfolding below, you've seen the work of a rooftopper. Let me first go on record as saying that rooftopping strikes me as a particularly dumb activity. It's all risk. Don't do it. It seems like only a matter of time before someone doing this is seriously injured or killed. So I don't advocate rooftopping, and I'm never going to do it myself. (A client once sent me to the edge of a three story building to get a shot, and it was terrifying. Three stories doesn't sound like much, but when you're peering over the edge it sure feels dangerous.) The other day on TV I saw a video of three photographers—rooftoppers, all of them—who shot a selfie atop a 1,135-foot-tall Hong Kong skyscraper. The wide-angle video might induce vertigo in the most sensitive viewers, but it's worth a watch—if only to shake your head at those invincible youth. That video prompted me to investigate the phenomenon, which led me to learn all about rooftoppers and unearth the work of some of the field's most "famous" names. Start with the short article at Slate, linked below, which offers an introduction to the genre and a warning to its practitioners. Then take a look at the work of photographers Andrew Tso and Tom Ryaboi—the former is one of the three photographers in the selfie video above, and the latter is credited as a pioneer of the genre. I don't recommend anyone take up this pastime, and if I could meet Mr. Tso, Mr. Ryaboi or anyone else who thinks this is a good idea, I'd earnestly work to discourage them from the practice. Until then, I'll look at their work and shake my head in awe—of both the images they're making and the brash nature of their risky actions.
Yosemite’s Meadow Fire
Monday, September 15, 2014
There's a wildfire currently raging in one of the most popular outdoor photo destinations in the United States. According to the Fresno Bee, the Meadow Fire burning Yosemite National Park has scorched nearly 5,000 acres, and park officials estimate it's cost almost $4 million to fight. The wildfire in the country's most iconic national park is now 50% contained, as more than 500 firefighters use minimally invasive tactics designed to steer the fire toward granite rock faces and cliffs that will naturally eliminate the fire due to lack of fuel. The firefighters' goal is full containment by this time next week. There's some unique imagery coming out of the coverage of the wildfire, including a NASA satellite photograph of the giant smoke plume billowing out over the Yosemite Valley, and images of the iconic peak known as Half Dome with flames raging in the background. Access to Half Dome has reopened, but several trails and campsites near the fire remain closed. Let's hope that access to this beloved National Park is back to full speed soon. Read more at the Fresno Bee and the Los Angeles Times, and be sure to check out the Times gallery of images of the wildfire.
National Park Service photo
The Best Photos In The History Of Sport
Friday, September 12, 2014
Have you seen the SI Photo Blog? It's curated by Sports Illustrated editors themselves and comprises the best classic SI covers and action photos from the "good ol' days" as well as what's going on in recent issues as well. With football season newly underway I'm in a sports photography mood, and Sports Illustrated was an early photographic love of mine, as I used to collect the covers week in and week out in the 1980s as I was a budding photographer myself. (I even took a Sports Illustrated photography workshop 20 years ago this summer!) The point is, the folks at Sports Illustrated consistently deliver world class sports action photography, and now with the SI Photo Blog on Tumblr it's fun and easy to browse through the best of the best. Check it out at http://siphotos.tumblr.com/
Aperture Photography Workshops
Thursday, September 11, 2014
The noted photography foundation Aperture was formed 60 years ago by artists and photographers coming together to learn in collaboration. The first editor of Aperture magazine was master photographer Minor White, known to be a tremendous teacher of photography. It's in this fundamental tradition of education that Aperture's workshop program continues today. Photography workshops at Aperture's Manhattan offices are an ideal way for both amateurs and professionals to come together with leading experts in the art of photography and its associated fields, to learn about everything from cultivating artistic vision to publishing photo books and studying the history of the medium. This fall's workshop schedule includes W.M. Hunt on looking at and analyzing photographs, Elinor Carucci on developing style by delving deeper into emotion and nuance, and Gail Halaban on the photography of place—the place in this workshop being, specifically, New York city. To learn more about these and Aperture's many thought provoking workshops, visit the foundation's web site at aperture.org.