RECENTLY I WROTE:
- Happy Londoners... http://t.co/TJH0aVxJ6P posted 2 days ago
- Airbnb Stay Illegal In New York, Rules Judge http://t.co/bt8Ofao9aE posted 2 days ago
- I've updated my last night's post on the new Flickr: http://t.co/mBBwIOq18F posted 3 days ago
- Flickr's new $499.99 per year 'Doublr' service explained http://t.co/qiJSVG9gJP via @zite posted 3 days ago
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- I like one thing so far: "Flickr gives you one free terabyte of space. Share your photos in full resolution. Pro subscription remains same. posted 3 days ago
Category Archives: photojournalism
Ah, those Italian stereotypes. Women making pasta in the kitchen, men playing cards and smoking fags in the street. Not true, eh? Or?
Well, I haven’t visited many Italian kitchens, but the bit about men sitting on corners and in various public places is largely true. Whether they gossip, smoke, quarrel loudly or play cards, they are always great subjects for street photographers.
The men from these pictures gather every day in an ancient building called Dominova Seat in the heart of Sorrento, southern Italy. They play every afternoon, sheltered from the fierce heat outside. They quarrel, laugh, chat or – in some cases at least – sit quietly reading or writing.
They’re also very friendly, and allowed me to stay with them for a bit to take these shots, for which I’m very grateful.
The building itself is fascinating too. It’s dates back to the 14th century and has two open arches, which makes it partly open to the outside world. It has a magnificent tiled dome and impressive faded frescoes.
You can see more photos from that afternoon in my Google + albums here, or just click on any of the images in this post.
Yesterday was Gay Pride London day. I planned to film the parade – and I did (editing the footage as we speak) – but I couldn’t not take any pictures. (And I didn’t want to rely on screengrabs from the video footage).
And as always, every option, every colour and every age was represented – from bears carrying dead foxes on their shoulders to drag queens and sex workers.
From those who’ve seen it all – and are probably happy they can now manifest their sexuality openly – to those who manifest it here because their native land still sees homosexuality as sin.
Here are some more pictures from yesterday, make sure to click on the Flickr gallery at the bottom for more.
Brighton Marina. Sounds exciting, eh? It’s actually a nice place – full of boats, restaurants, bars and people. But how do those people get there, you ask? Well, they can drive. Or, like me, they can walk. The last option is however only for the brave. And not just because of the distance from the centre of Brighton. Oh, no.
On a sunny day it’s a nice, 30-minute stroll along the pebbly beach. But nothing prepares you for the sheer ugliness of the place. Cause if you’re a pedestrian, you walk through some of the coldest, ugliest and unfriendliest public space you are likely to experience, before you reach the above-mentioned bars for a well-deserved pint. Cars approach the marina via a series of bridges leading straight to a multi-storey car park.
It’s a different story though if – instead of driving – you walk from Brighton itself.
First you pass a piece of no-man’s land. It’s partly fenced-off and fugly. There’s no better way of describing it.
Then you negotiate the lovely concrete tunnel…
…before finding yourself in the middle of a car-park (with a car-washing facility in the corner). From there, the quickest way to the Marina leads via, yes, you’ve guessed it, another car park. It’s the multi-storey one I mentioned earlier.
And unless you go to the cinema (on the other side of the car park), you need to walk (no lifts, but maybe that’s actually good) to the 4th floor as this is the only level from which you can access all the bars and restaurants.
According to Wikipedia, a planning application to redevelop the west side of the Marina was submitted four years ago and subsequently refused. Those who opposed the redevelopment claimed it would spoil the views and called it inappropriate. There was a separate plan to redevelop the eyesore, but it was put on hold too.
As a consequence, Brighton has been left with this monstrosity which even on a warm and sunny day looks cold, unattractive and uninviting.
Brighton Marina. Sounds exciting, eh?
Recently I was asked to photograph actors during a rehearsal for a new play called “The grammar of love” at the Oval House Theatre in south London. It was an exciting opportunity as I had never worked with actors as a photographer.
My very good friend, Nuala O’Sullivan, who wrote the play, wanted the images to be in B&W. Mostly. That was the brief. The rest was up to me.
The biggest challenge was the space. A small rehearsal room painted black, with very harsh fluorescent lighting. Small and therefore very intimate too. Which was good for me, but I wasn’t sure how the actors would react to having a lens in their faces pretty much all the time.
Well, I’m glad to report they coped well. The constant clicking didn’t distract them, they didn’t fluff their lines, although I had to give up using flash as that proved too much in a small confined space like that.
The other tricky bit was the fact I saw only a few crucial scenes, but not the whole play. So I had to work out who the characters were and what the chemistry between them was.
But more importantly, I also had to remain one step ahead of them. In such a small space, without a prior knowledge of the script, I had no idea where they would move of what they would do next. There were a couple of moments when I had to beat a hasty retreat when an actor lunged towards me unexpectedly.
I guess it was more stressful for them than it was for me – after all they couldn’t stop mid-sentence to let me know they were about to move my way. But a great learning experience for me. I’m sure seasoned photojournalists deal with such situations on a daily basis.
I was wondering whether to say much about the play itself, but I won’t. All you need to know is that it takes place in Tokyo and passions run high… I’ll let the images speak for themselves.
However, I had to withhold a few shots in order not to give away too much – I don’t want to spoil it for Nuala. Or you. With a bit of luck, the play should open at the Oval House Theatre this autumn. And you should definitely see it then.
In a country of replicas, another copy of a better-known icon should not surprise anyone. Yet, seeing a replica of a cemetery in the middle of one of the most famous beaches in the world and next to a loud, cheap and equally famous pier couldn’t have come as a bigger surprise to me. And Arlington West is a replica, but also a memorial in its own right – it honours those who were killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And it’s a temporary memorial too. It appears next to Santa Monica Pier every Sunday thanks to Veterans for Peace. Just like the original Arlington cemetery, which honours fallen American war heroes, its Santa Monica ‘extension’ is a place of reflection, mourning and is intended to draw people’s attention to the ongoing conflict.
I didn’t notice the enormous sea of crosses at first, too preoccupied with the crowds on what was the hottest day in Los Angeles’ history. But neither did most of the visitors. The usual, colourful, loud and laid-back crowd was busy parking their SUVs, cycling along the Malibu to Venice path, eating ice cream and rinsing their flip-flops from the sand on the unbelievably wide and long beach.
The memorial is erected next to the northern entrance to the pier and contrasts sharply with the carnival-like atmosphere of the area. Surfers and coffins. Roller coasters and roll calls of thousands of American soldiers who will never see this beach again.
But the memorial also honours Iraqis who were killed by the Coalition troops, as well as the fallen Coalition soldiers.
Despite the appearances, the site does attract a lot of interest, both from casual passers-by like me and from those who came here to reflect and leave their condolences.
But somehow, like in our everyday lives, the moment of reflection evaporates with the scorching heat and soon posters of Miley Cyrus and Usher, and Spiderman impersonators, take over. Everything goes back to normal on Santa Monica beach.
Until next Sunday.
See the full gallery of images from there on Flickr:
Everyone is complaining that it’s more and more difficult to make money on photography and that the stock photography market has become too competitive. Stock libraries spring up every five minutes and they all overflow with images.
Yes, that might be true. But when you really need a good picture, micro stock libraries disappoint.
In my job I often need to browse for images to illustrate various stories. The subjects vary wildly, but in many cases the requirements are not too taxing: a picture of a child using a laptop; or an image of nice garden; or a messy room. You know the score – no latest Reuters shots from Afghanistan or galleries of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Just some interesting, clean, fairly generic, but hopefully inventive images. The last bit – inventive – is however the source of my frustration.
Photographers submitting their images to stock galleries seem to have a problem with thinking outside the box. They either repeat the same bland – and often detached from reality – clichés which over the years have become a norm, or go for very artistic images, which, although technically perfect, are hardly usable.
This morning I was looking for an image of a car with a few rust spots. Had I known I would need one, I would’ve snapped my own rusty car as it combines the two things I was after: it’s relatively modern and working, and it has a few rusty spots. But try searching for a such a car on a certain well-known stock image website and all you get is numerous images of old rusty Dodge trucks, abandoned somewhere picturesque and artfully photographed in HDR. It ticks all stock library boxes, so it gets accepted, yet from an editorial perspective it’s mostly useless.
Next one: knitting. Here’s where all those predictable clichés come out in force. Because if you were to believe in what stock libraries have to offer, you’d have to conclude that knitting is for old frumpy pensioners in rocking armchairs. Therefore, a story on young trendy mums meeting in gastropubs to knit and chat simply cannot be illustrated by a stock image.
And don’t even get me started on corporate photography. Or rather, don’t get me started on images with keywords ‘meeting’ and ‘office’. Seriously, have you ever been to a meeting, mr stock photography? Do you really think that all meetings involve extremely good-looking people in blue shirts, pointing at a laptop screen or shaking hands or gazing at a whiteboard graph?
I recently needed an image to illustrate a story about tackling challenging meetings. The choice was between a group of happy suits gazing at a graph/laptop/whatever else or a room full of snoring office workers. All looked very corporate because yes, in real life meetings only involve airbrushed 30-somethings in Armani suits, sitting in sterile air-conditioned office towers.
Stock photography now appeals to a much wider audience, the rules have changed a bit. It is no longer just a repository of clinical images for brochures and PowerPoint presentations, or at least it shouldn’t be. Media outlets use stock images to illustrate their content because it’s cheaper. This creates more demand for more original imagery. Stock photographers must start thinking like journalists to differentiate. There is no point reproducing the same old crap – find out who your audience is and do some research on what works for them.
I know there are people who probably make a fortune on those clinical corporate images – and I agree there is and probably will always be a market for those. But budget cuts and/or smarter thinking have forced many newsrooms to rely on cheaper alternatives. Therefore standing out in a sea of blandness is the only way forward.
Maybe the new Flickr-Getty deal will provide editors with more ‘real’ images? But I should deal with that can of worms in a separate post perhaps…
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Although you wouldn’t know that, if you looked at most online picture galleries.
It’s been bothering me for quite a while: why is it that so many online publications seem to be proud of their picture galleries and attach so much importance to the visual aspect of news, yet completely ruin the experience by presenting the images in a very unattractive way?
Yes, I know that page impressions count and if you reduce the gallery size, cram a few ads on the page and make people click forever you may even earn a few bucks. But will the same people come back?
I may look at the galleries on Times Online, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph every now and then, but usually only when I get sent a link to one. I hardly ever look at the BBC galleries, although I have to admit that I like the fact their home page has become flexible and can easily accommodate a large(ish)-format gallery to illustrate a big breaking news story.
I know that not everybody uses huge screens and enjoys a fast broadband connection, and I’m fully aware of the fact that most news outlets need or want to appeal to the widest audience. But how about making the images bigger, the gallery visually more appealing and likely to be shared easily? At least try?
That’s exactly what boston.com did and subsequently conquered the social media world with its Big Picture gallery – massive, bold, carefully selected images focused on a single theme.
Ask any Twitter user whether they’ve heard of Boston.com and they will probably say no. But ask them about The Big Picture and they’re more likely to remember it.
In a relatively short space of time The Big Picture has become an institution – a place to go to to see carefully selected examples of photojournalism, extreme photography, some quirky and unusual images – all in big format.
And, unlike most online galleries, this one needs to be scrolled rather than clicked through. That’s possibly its biggest unique selling point: no thumbnails, no individual pages, no pop-ups. Just a long list of visually stunning and often poigniant images. A big win for both photography and for journalism, but not just because of the big format. The images are always carefully selected to guarantee the most logical narrative or simply the biggest visual impact, or both.
Another exemplary use of big format photographs can be found on the brilliant Pictory site, where users are invited to submit just one image on a specific theme. Laura Brunow, who runs the website, then picks twelve best images and publishes them as brilliant image-led ‘stories’. See this Danger showcase for example. A clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate page, where images are able to speak for themselves and grab our attention. Each comes with a short intro or caption submitted by the contributing photographer and with the photographer’s bio.
The fact that many Twitter users – not necessarily photographers – shared a link to the recent London showcase, and had nothing but praise for the site, suggests Laura Brunow (and The Big Picture) got it right.
The big boys should really take notice.
If the recent media stories about the threat to our freedom to photograph in public places worry or anger you, don’t let them.
So, don’t worry, photography is not under threat. It will be, when you stop shooting.