Story Behind a Photo in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley

This photograph of a woman licking the last drops of beer off her lip-plate was the culmination of about 2 months of work to make a different photograph in this area. There will be more and more journalists here as it approaches 2013 when these culturally distinct groups will have their food supply cut off by a dam. They depend on flood-recession agriculture and without floods, there is no agriculture. The arms trade between the warlords in Sudan and the warlords in Somalia goes directly across their turf. So in 2013 these people who have the last of the lip-plates and other culturally-distinct traditions will be heavily armed and starving to death.

Almost all of the photographs you see from this area are people posing for the camera. There is a reason for this. Women see a camera and they cover their lip-plate with their clothing until they are paid to pose for a picture. There have been some famous photographers in here that brought along their stylists to make the body paint look ever-more perfect. In short… it is a mess. I did a survey across the entire region on my first trip and I ended up in “survival mode” to make photographs… used every trick I know… not pleasant. But my second trip I concentrated in a village with one tribe where my buddy Lale was the strong man of the village… it was still tough… but at least it was possible to photograph people actually leading their lives…

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Farlow Heinz Endowment Photos on Display at Carnegie Museum

For seven years I felt like a taxi driver winding on the back routes–up and down hills, over bridges and through tunnels. I knew the ethnic neighborhoods and quirky nature of the terrain that divided communities all over the county. But when I was downtown, I walked. The Pittsburgh Press offices were near the Point and the territory between there and Grant Street – what’s known as the Golden Triangle—was where I looked for photographs between assignments.
I remember the Mayor of Pittsburgh making a proclamation that during his administration, the city was going to work to get at least half of the downtown street to have signs up to identify them

I came to Pittsburgh in 1986 to work for the afternoon newspaper. After the Press died, I began freelancing. Most of my assignments after that began by getting on an airplane to go somewhere else to work.

The assignment for the Heinz Endowments—Pittsburgh Downtown Now—brought me back to connect with people and places. After 20 years, it was interesting to see Pittsburgh with fresh eyes. The city is handsome—a mixture of old architectural marvels and new ones cropping up on the skyline. Spaces in between are undergoing a metamorphosis. The whole notion of Pittsburgh as a Green City was entirely new to me. Market Square, the Mon Wharf and the Point—iconic, familiar haunts are being revamped to make them friendlier places, but with a mind on preservation that has maintained their integrity. For two years on this project, I discovered a new city and it was cool because I understood it’s past.


PPG Fountain
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Carnegie Museum Show for Heinz Endowment Photographs

Picturing the City: Downtown Pittsburgh, 2007–2010, September 23, 2011–March 25, 2012, Carnegie Museum of Art, Gallery One

Linda Benedict-Jones (center of first photo), The Carnegie Museum and the Heinz Endowment hosted an opening for the public and the photographers working on photographs of Pittsburgh for the last two years for the “Downtown Now” project funded by the Heinz Endowment.

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Geekfest 2011

GEEKFEST DENVER

Melissa Lyttle and APAD put on a great get together at the Glob on the other side of the tracks in Denver CO… For more info on APAD go here.

This is from their blog: GeekFest. The most frequently asked question is “what is it?!”

Well, it’s the best little photo conference with the worst, geekiest name out there. Every year, it’s suggested that we need to do something about the name, but in the end, it kind of fits. The name actually started as a joke, in reference to a group of geeks who’s all come together to geek out about photography. (If anyone has a better name though, I’m all ears!)

The first one was in DC with about 10 of us crammed into David Holloway’s basement. APAD was in its infancy and we all just wanted to put faces with names, so we devised a plan to get together for a meetup. We did a shootout on the Mall for the Fourth of July festivities, and talked photo all weekend. It was awesome and intimate and invigorating to know that there were some like minds out there.

From there it went to Fort Lauderdale, where we got about a dozen people, sleeping head to toe in every room of my small studio apartment, including two in the kitchen and one in the bathtub. I worked at the Sun-Sentinel then, and decided it’d be awesome to have some of my amazingly inspiring coworkers, like Angel Valentin and Mike Stocker speak to our small group. It also allowed me to approach Lisa Krantz, who I didn’t know at the time outside of her badass work at the Naples Daily News (about 2 hours from me, right across Alligator Alley). I emailed her, explained my mad photo crush, and asked her if she’d come share her work with us and hang out for the weekend. She’s been one of my best friends and still one of my biggest sources of inspiration since.

From there we’ve taken it on the road to Austin, Chicago, Portland and then found a homebase for the last three years in St. Petersburg, Fla. (where I work now, and where we have an awesome photo community and a great accommodating town).

Looking back on the speakers over the years amazes me. We’ve been lucky enough to have such talented presenters such as Ben Lowy, Penny De Los Santos, David Holloway, Khampha Bouaphanh, Carlos Javier Ortiz, Jon Lowenstein, Scott Strazzante, Wes Pope, Jamie Francis, Beth Nakamura, Karen Ducey, Alan Berner, James Rexroad, Bruce Ely, Robbie McClaran, Laura Lo Forti, Susana Raab, Lane Degregory, Preston Gannaway, Ross Taylor, Boyzell Hosey, Bob Croslin, Michael Williamson, Ted Jackson, Allison V. Smith, Damon Winter, Pat Farrell, Sam Abell, Bryan Moss, Dai Sugano, Alexis Lambert, David Hanschuh, Nicole Frugé, Lisa Krantz (2x speaker!), Greg Kahn, Liz O. Baylen, Zack Arias, Ben Rusnak, Todd Heisler, Deb Pang Davis and Mike Davis share their work, their stories and their wisdom with us.

Speakers this year — Kevin Moloney – freelance photographer, adjunct instructor of photojournalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Sol Neelman, the “Weird Sports” photographer with a new book just out, Tim Rasmussen, Denver Post DOP, Craig Walker, Denver Post photographer, Rob Haggart, A Photo Editor, Ben Rasmussen, freelance photographer, Sonya Hebert, photographer, Dallas Morning News, Matt Slaby, freelance photographer, co-founder of LUCEO images, John Moore, photographer, Getty Images, Melissa Farlow and Randy Olson, freelance photographers for National Geographic Magazine.

Mike Davis tries to navigate packed crowd at the Glob… a funky, grungy, venue for the Geeks…

Thomas Patterson is asked to strike an “underwear model” pose outside the Glob venue…

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz

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Bill Allard Explains How He Became a National Geographic Photographer

I see it’s been almost two months since I’ve posted a blog–a long time. It isn’t that I haven’t been writing, I have, quite a bit. But not for my blog.

We’re back in Virginia after a long drive from Missoula, Montana, a town I already miss. We stopped in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska on our way back and in that order although it doesn’t seem the logical way to go from western Montana if one consults a map. But it’s the way we went and now we’re here at our Afton, Virginia home again after almost four months away.

As much as I miss Montana it’s good to be back here in the woods of Nelson county in central Virginia’s Rockfish Valley. We came in accompanied by rain all the way from Indiana. The leaves are all down and wet,  the aroma of the woods surrounding our house is an intense, earthy, fragrance; nothing else quite like it. Oaks, poplar, maple, gum, hickory, and locust, a seemingly endless variety of trees all stripped of their summer garb creating a carpet of amber and gold hues on the forest floor.

Driving back I thought a bit about an evening in Missoula when I was speaking to about 60 University of Montana students in an evening class called “Montana Writers Live,” conducted by my friend Robert Stubblefield, a member of the formidable Creative Writing faculty.

I read to them some excerpts from a book of fiction I started years ago, set aside for some years and have returned to and worked hard on this past year. It’s something I hope to finish by the end of next summer. It’s the first time I’ve read from my fiction and I think it went well. There was a long period of Q and A following my reading and I did my best to answer their questions. They were not all about my fiction, of course, many were about my long career as a photographer and writer for National Geographic magazine, a career that will reach 48 years this coming June.

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3.5% Fine Art Print Royalties Back to Artist at Auction?

From NYT Arts Beat: Lawmakers Propose Royalties Be Paid to Artists on Resale

By PATRICA COHEN

It’s the dream of every art collector to buy a painting from a little-known artist for $100 and later sell it for $1 million. But how does that artist feel? Some think it unfair that artists typically do not directly benefit when a particular work escalates in value, and a bill introduced Thursday by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, and Senator Herb Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, seeks to redress that.

With the support of organizations like the Visual Artists and Galleries Association and the Artists Rights Society, the lawmakers propose setting aside 7 percent of the price of artworks that are resold for more than $10,000 at auction houses. Half of the commission would go to the artist and the other half to nonprofit art museums. The legislation, which would apply only to the resale of work, models itself on laws — more commonly known as droit de suite — already on the books in dozens of countries.   More here:

The Real Price of Gold NPR Interview – Randy with Terry Gross

 

Randy’s interview with Terry Gross

on Fresh Air about NGM’s The Real Price of Gold.

 

 

 

National Geographic Italy Publishes "Master of Photography" Series

 

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Workshop with friends…

It’s funny how much better things work when you are in a great group of friends…

In 2005 we needed a fixer to help us on an assignment in the Alps for National Geographic magazine. Gianluca Colla answered an email query that led to a more than a working partnership. If you spend a couple of months driving windy mountain roads to tiny villages in the Dolomites, taking a train across a snowy pass that is stalled because of an avalanche, and traipse through waist-high snow on a cold, black night getting lost on the way back from an ice igloo–well, you learn a lot about each other in these situations. We found this great guy who loves our music, knows great wine and food and never tired of the hunt for a good photographic situation. More importantly, we found a new friend who has sincere respect for other people and passion for photography. A few assignments, workshops, seminars and corporate jobs pass and then Sophie shows up. A talented beautiful woman inside and out. We returned to Italy last year for their wedding. A gathering of friends and family. Last month we returned again for the realization of his dream of bringing people together to share ideas and knowledge. The first Photo Cruise Factory Workshop. Gianluca partnered with his friend Matteo Cavalleroni to launch workshops. They both called on the talents and of their friends and organized a week — full of technical support and classroom critiques, discussion and lectures, shooting time punctuated by an evening talk at the fabulous Palazzo Ducale.

Two trips ago to Italy, it was for Gianluca and Sophie’s wedding…

Somehow they had a wedding that looked like a painting…

We speak no Italian, yet, language was not a barrier (partly to the skill of some fabulous translators). Photography communicates on such a universal level. Photographers came with varied backgrounds from different countries and worked on stories, each progressing to take their work to a new level. The first day, the group bonded over a joint assignment. But there were challenges. Manuela was 8 1/2 months pregnant. Ismaele is an engineer who photographed nature boldly but had never approached people. One woman was recovering from being in a coma after an accident. Photography was what she wanted to do. For another woman, it was a way to know her father who was a photographer who died when she was young.

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Genova Snaps walking to and from our workshop…


Ok… well actually NOT this one (above)… it was shot when I was here for NG on the 7 Billion story…

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