The Photo Society is LIVE

I guess I had no idea that Amoebic Dysentery could be so interesting…

The Photo Society (TPS) lists hazards (like dysentery) that NGM photographers experience in the field. TPS began as an idea in the summer of 2011 for an electronic campfire to bring together National Geographic contributing photographers. The only qualification for membership is completion of one full feature story for National Geographic Magazine.

I was tasked with this site by the PAB (Photographer’s Advisory Board), which negotiates contracts with National Geographic Magazine.

Deb Pang Davis volunteered to design the site—the look and feel is her work—and she managed it during a period of relocating and handling a cross-country move to take a teaching position at Syracuse University.

The developer of the site was absolutely critical and so talented that I am not giving his name out until he finishes our site. George Steinmetz asked me to do it and championed it all the way through. Ami Vitale was very gracious when we told her we liked her site and wanted to do a cloud with names similar to her content cloud. The name Photo Society came from kicking around options with Amy Toensing, George, and Katie Joseph just after we finished a negotiating session in Washington DC. My wife, Melissa Farlow, and I figured we would just pay for it if we had to and not worry so much if PAB membership dues actually paid us back or not.

Mike Hettwer and I had a conversation about how we weren’t really sure that everyone knew what we actually do in the field and he suggested a survey and then he put it together. That survey asked photographers what hazards—physical, financial, whatever—they were up against. After the survey was done, it languished for a few months. When I was trying to figure out what a crew of one could actually accomplish, I picked that survey apart and it became the Reality Check section on the site. Ed Kashi came up with the name for the section.

When the site soft-launched with a few Facebook posts and blog posts by members it was picked up by a number of highly visible blogs like PDN, APhotoEditor, PopPhoto and they primarily referenced the Reality Check section. So the analytics were interesting . . . people were going to the Reality Check section instead of the home page. The hook for the site was the list of hazards faced by National Geographic photographers. There was so much traffic they had to switch TPS to a bigger server—it broke the one it was on.

And I have to admit, after the launch it got a little weird. I had picked apart this massive ugly Excel spreadsheet from the hazards survey to glean the bits that made up the Reality Check section and that dissembled information got enough traffic that one person decided to REASSEMBLE and put all of that information BACK into her own Excel spreadsheet for some reason I still can’t quite figure out.

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Everyone Has a Camera Phone

This is a post from Maria Purdy Young’s site about citizen journalism. She quotes Stanley Forman WCVB-TV who, as a still photographer, won three Pulitzer prizes and now realizes as a video journalist that if he is late to a scene he needs to find someone who was there – in the moment – with a camera phone.

“There’s a bit of an exploitative relationship between citizen journalists and news organizations. You have to know enough to ask before you can get paid.” — Steve Myers, Managing Editor, Poynter.org
“It certainly has swung too far in one direction. Whether it’ll ever swing back or not, I don’t know.” –Stanley Forman, Photojournalist
When an amateur photographer stumbled onto an accident scene in 1953 and snapped a photo of a man being rescued from the side of a bridge, she was considered a witness. She was awarded $10 for winning The Sacramento Bee’s photo competition that week, and later won a Pulitzer Prize for spot news photography. Today, Virginia Schau would be called a citizen journalist, and she would have thousands of eager, unpaid colleagues in the United States, perhaps millions around the world. She would be a source of frustration for professional photographers, and a source of revenue relief for news organizations. She would also be part of an evolving media business model that may soon reach its peak.

“I notice 15 cameras pointed at the cop-only ONE is a professional photographer,” said Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute, in an email exchange.
“This speaks loudly to what is happening in our world,” he said. “As newsrooms downsize, more people who are not traditional journalists capture and document the world around us.”

You can read more about it here.

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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