Archive for the ‘Photo Issues’ Category

Zeke – the Roma issue

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

Zeke Magazine is published by the Social Documentary Network and “presents outstanding documentary photography from the Social Documentary Network on topics of global concern.”

SDN was launched in October 2008, and “is for documentary photographers, editors, journalists, NGOs, lovers of photography and anyone else who believes that photography plays an important role in educating people about our world.” I signed up for a free membership back in 2008, but never got around to becoming a paying member, though probably I should have done. When it started I think it was free to submit work, and I seem to recall doing so, but soon there was a fee to retain the work on the site. It was, as they say, a modest fee, but I decided against it.

You can read more on their ‘About SDN‘ page which includes the following requirements for the images they publish:

  1. Aesthetic quality. The photographs must have a strong point of view and have a deliberate and meaningful composition.
  2. Documentary integrity. The images and the writing must avoid sensationalism, factual information must be accurate, and the images must be respectful of the subject and viewer.
  3. Technical quality of digital files (resolution, focus, exposure, etc.) Only fewer than 10% of exhibits are not approved and we work with a photographers to bring their exhibit up to the level required to go live. We do not edit or curate exhibits. The content on SDN is completely user-generated.

If I hadn’t already got an extensive web site – or rather several, including My London Diary and of course this blog I would probably have thought more seriously about becoming a paying member, making more submissions and paying the fees to keep them on-line.  The membership page makes the benefits clear.

I still get the monthly newsletter, and this month’s links to an article in the Spring 2019 issue, which you can read online or susbscribe to get a print version. This is The Roma and Traveller Issue, with some fine documentary photography and some very informative articles.

I first became involved with travellers back in the 1960s – before I really took photos – when along with other students I went to protect them from eviction from one of the many cleared areas of derelict land close to the university in Manchester. We sat down to stop site clearance and were invited into several of their caravans for tea and conversation.

In more recent years I’ve been occasionally involved in Roma protests, visiting Dale Farm and in central London, but have never really photographed in depth, perhaps put off from doing so by several rather fine bodies of published work featuring them. The best known of these is of course by Magnum’s Josef Koudelka, very much a traveller himself (though not from the community); Zeke includes a largely positive review of the re-publication of that work, though having a copy of the 1975 book (the UK edition) I don’t feel the need to buy the new revised version, despite the apparently superior quality of its quadtone reproductions. Perhaps the more graphic nature of that earlier publication suits the pictures, though I’ve not yet been able to compare them directly.

Which Camera?

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

Its perhaps interesting to see which cameras were used to take the winning pictures in World Press Photo, though the sample is so small (I think 38) it isn’t possible to draw any really strong conclusions from them. They continue to be dominated by Canon and Nikon DSLRs, but I doubt if the one can really draw any conclusions about the relative popularity of the two marques from the different proportions from year to year. There are articles in various places on the web about this, including Fstoppers and PetaPixel, all relying on an article in a Spanish magazine. But I’ll try to give my own perspective.

The DSLR remains the camera of choice for most working professional news photographers for good reasons, and they are likely to use the more expensive models designed for professional use. The actual models change over the years, rather more rapidly than they would have done years ago, both because the manufacturers bring out new models with at least minor improvements, but also because they simply do not last as long as cameras used to, with major repairs usually being uneconomic. So while the SLR I bought back in 1973 is still actually capable of taking pictures (though in terrible condition after I used it for almost 30 years), I’ve written off two DSLRs bought in the last ten years.

DSLRs are flexible and relatively reliable, usable with lenses of every focal length – and a huge range of them available. Professional models at least can be used in all kinds of conditions (or almost all) and are reasonably weather-proof, important to many of us. They can do almost any photographic job, even if there are better tools for some. Since I went seriously digital I’ve used Nikon DSLRs for almost all of my work. When I went into digital, Nikon had the best camera at an affordable price with the D100 and I’ve upgraded though a whole series of new models to the D810, though never moving to the top of the range models such as the D5, which have always seemed just too large and too heavy for any advantages they might have. When the D810 comes to the end of its life I’ll probably replace it with another Nikon DSLR.

I’ve never worked with a Canon DSLR. I’m sure once I got used to it I’d find it as good as the Nikon, but over the years I’ve built up a collection of Nikon lenses, most of which have their uses, though I only regularly use three of them, and a system change would be expensive.

But I have for some years wanted to move to a smaller, lighter system, and for some years I’ve also been using Fuji cameras too. They feature in the winners list too, though I think the interpretation I’ve seen of this in various articles is rather lacking. Fuji-X cameras split into three very distinct groups – the fixed lens X100 series – used by three of the winners, the rangefinder style X-Pros with one winner, and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras which fail to feature. All of the four Fuji images in the list were taken with cameras which have – like the DSLR – an optical viewfinder.

I’m increasingly working with cameras without an optical viewfinder, including the Fuji XT1 and an Olympus OMD E-M5II (I remain convinced Olympus would double their sales if they came up with a sensible naming system) and although their digital viewfinders are good, they are still lacking compared to the directness of an optical finder. The Fuji is frustrating in not always being ready to take a picture – sometimes the quickest way seems to be to switch it off and on, and while the Olympus is better in this respect, I find its menu system and function buttons etc confusing, and sometimes the camera seems to have a mind of its own, refusing to stay on auto WB or some other setting I’ve made. Nikons just seem easier to keep control of (though they have their quirks.)

Of course if you are going to use Nikon or Canon’s top of the range DSLRs you will be probably be using full-frame (though perversely I often use the D810 at 1.2x or even APS-C) though few of us ever need the full size files. I didn’t consider Micro 4/3 cameras for years, but using the Olympus has rather changed my mind.

Although the name Leica still comes up with one entry, this is the Leica Q, a fixed lens camera rather than a traditional M-series camera. The nearest to that in the list is perhaps the Fuji X-Pro2, and that, along with four relatively compact fixed lens cameras (three from Fuji and the Leica) making the winners does seem to me to be a very high proportion. There are still situations where a relatively small and less obtrusive camera is the best for the job.

Do Not Bend

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

The film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay produced by Grant Scott’s The United Nations of Photography casts an interesting light on photography in the UK in the 1970s at a time when I was just coming into the medium, though so far I’ve only taken a brief look at a few sections of it. The full film is over an hour and a half long, and I hope to have time to watch it all before long – when I may have more to say about it. If you don’t already know something about Bill Jay it would be worth reading the web site above before watching it.

It does contain insights from a number of photographers and others I’ve come across over the years, including a few I got to know fairly well at various times and one who is a good friend I visit regularly, and whose view on it I will be interested to hear.

It has already been shown at a number of screenings here and in the US, but Grant Scott and Tim Pellatt who were the team behind the documentary have now made the film available to view for free on Youtube.

Whaling or a woman?

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

I’m not sure why a protest against Japan’s plans to resume commercial whaling should be such a Conservative occasion as this clearly was, with a strong presence from the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation as well as Boris’s father Stanley Johnson and Tory MEP for the East of England John Flack as speakers.

Animal rights is an issue that cuts across party divides, but the more radical side of the movement including most of those I’ve photographed at protests against the annual slaughter of dolphins at Taiji cove outside the Japanese Embassy seemed to be missing.

I’m clearly not sufficiently aware of the political nature of conservation and animal welfare, and this does appear to have been organised by Conservatives for Conservative conservationists, with no speakers from Labour, Lib-Dem, Green or other parties in Cavendish Square.

But we did see some disgraceful behaviour by some photographers, pushing protesters and other photographers out of their way as they rushed to photograph conservationist and former Tory spin doctor Carrie Symonds, not for anything she had to say, but because she was Boris Johnson’s girlfriend. I try to avoid occasions where the paparazzi are at work, as on this occasion butressing their reputation as the scum of photography.

And unfortunately their rudeness and assaults were rewarded at least by the popular press, whose accounts of the event hardly mentioned whales and were almost entirely illustrated by pictures (some rather poor) of Symonds and gossip about her and Boris. For the media it was about the woman rather than whaling.

Of course I did photograph her too, and did file four of her in the 44 pictures to the agency from the event, rather more than of the others who spoke, and you can see those pictures along with many others at ‘No Whaling’ rally and march.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Marzieh Hashemi arrest protest

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

The USA decided to move its London embassy a few years ago, and probably a major factor in the decision to go to Nine Elms was that Grosvenor Square was such a convenient location for demonstrations. The most notable of these was back on on 17 March 1968, when police horses ran amok in a relatively peaceful crowd that was filling the square. I can’t see myself in the videos but I’m fairly sure (it was the sixties, and if you can remember …) I was there and certainly remember the panic as out of control horses rushed towards me. I don’t think horses were used at the other protests I was at then, though I’ve seen them used at other London protests in recent years.


Not the embassy

It seemed an example of cruelty to animals (which the nation might be expected to violently object to) and also of cruelty to protesters, about which many would care little. Quite clearly those horses were frightened and out of control of their riders, who rode them into peaceful crowds heedless of the injuries that might be caused. The BBC and much of the other media described it as a riot, but the only rioters where the horses were deployed, well away from the embassy, were the police.


A part of the embassy

In recent years at Grosvenor Square there were probably several protests most weeks, mostly small but some sizeable, though virtually none reported in the media, where only protests abroad against regimes we don’t favour or those involving so-called celebrities seem normally to qualify as news.


This is the embassy

Things are certainly much quieter for the us at Nine Elms, which for many Londoners seems almost on the edge of the known universe. though actually it is only a short walk from one of London’s major transport interchanges at Vauxhall. But it isn’t just getting there that is the problem; the embassy is on a relatively minor road and its entrances hidden away some distance from that road. While people and cars move through Grosvenor Square, virtually nothing goes past the new Embassy which is still in the middle of one of the largest building sites in the country.

Back on the main road in front of the embassy, there is nothing to tell you that this is the US Embassy, though the building itself, on the other side of a garden and lake, is made distinctive by some odd wrapping on three sides (but not that actually facing the road.) Unlike in Grosvenor Square, there is no giant eagle on its roof, and the US flag, rather than being on the roof, is hidden away behind the embassy.

It’s hard from the pavement in front of the pedestrian entrance to the embassy site to get a convincing view of the building, as it is too close for the widest rectilinear lens. Bits of it – as the top two images show – are not that distinctive or convincing, and to get the third image I had to use a fisheye lens. As usual I’ve converted the image using Fisheye-Hemi to make the side walls straight, but the top of the building does retain a curve. The latest version of this utility is now available as a Lightroom export plugin, making it no longer necessary to use Photoshop for the conversion.

I had two main reasons to attend the protest, first that it was about the mistreatment by the FBI of a fellow journalist, but also because it seemed a clear case of Islamophobia, FBI harassment of the Muslim community.  America never really was the ‘land of the free’ so far as many of its inhabitants were concerned, or for the rest of the world, but things have got even worse since 9/11 and such shameful US activities such as the illegal rendition and detention of detainees in Guantanamo.

More about the event at Marzieh Hashemi arrest protest.

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Arms Dealers feast while Yemen starves

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

I didn’t much enjoy taking pictures outside the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London’s Mayfair on a cold January night. The pavement is fairly narrow and fairly dark, and it was very crowded, with a lot of pushing and shoving, with some police getting rather more physical than the situation demanded.  And police took no notice when some of those attending the dinner assaulted the protesters. At least they hadn’t brought their weapons with them.

Of course we shouldn’t be selling arms to be used in Yemen. I’d be happier if we didn’t have one of the larger arms industries in the world, which despite claims about strong export controls is still happy to sell arms to countries where we have serious human rights concerns. We still sell them to over two thirds of the countries on that list – including Saudi Arabia, which is using them in Yemen.

Although it makes big money, the arms industry employs relatively few people – around 140,000 according to the industry body. There surely must be better ways to employ these workers, many who are highly skilled, than in making arms to kill people.

And it is obscene of the Aerospace, Defence and Security industry to hold a luxury dinner celebrating their activities causing death, starvation and devastation across the world. Since Saudi Arabia began its bombing of Yemen in 2015, the UK have continued to supply weapons costing almost £5 billion putting 14m Yemeni people – mainly uninvolved civilians – at risk of famine and starvation.

I arrived after the protest had started, a little earlier than advertised, and it seems that neither the hotel or the police had really prepared for the inevitable and widely advertised protest. Traffic was still flowing on the lane next to the pavement, putting protesters and passers-by at risk, and the barriers were perhaps poorly placed.

Police began handling demonstrators rather roughly, and at least one or two officers were clearly enjoying themselves doing so, while others were clearly trying to treat people carefully. There does need to be some system for officers to report rogue fellow officers and clean up the police. Policing is a difficult job and needs the support of those being policed and this is clearly eroded by the behaviour of some.

I wasn’t too badly treated by police, though as often one or two deliberately moved in front of me to prevent me getting a clear view of their colleagues and I did at times get pushed a little more roughly than necessary. But at one point I was knocked into the road by a protester who had been bodily thrown in my direction by police, but fortunately there was no traffic in the nearside lane at this point.

For obvious reasons I don’t have a picture of that incident, and others were blurred as I was pushed or people were rather rapidly moved. The pictures I took with flash were as expected rather better with subject movement, but even some of those were blurred.

More at Stop Arming Saudi while Yemen starves
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

London solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

While some of my anarchist friends are always happy to be photographed, others fear being identified in pictures, and have very negative feelings towards photographers. I sometimes am told that I should blur all the faces in pictures that I publish showing anarchists and aniti-fascists, something that in general I am not prepared to do. Generally I reply that if people are in public and wish to hide their faces they should ‘mask up’. It usually makes my pictures more dramatic too.

We do have some control over our appearance in public, and many hide all or part of the time behind masks or other face coverings, make-up or even beards. But if we are in public we will be seen by others, and also photographed, if only by the many security cameras that litter our streets and public  and private buildings.

Many are particularly suspicious of being photographed by the press, feeling that any pictures will  be used in a way that discredits them. Clearly there are photographers working for some publications who have these as an aim, but I’m not one of them, and those who know me generally know they can trust me, although once a picture goes to an agency I will have little or no control over how it is used.   It’s certainly important to think carefully about what you do and don’t file.

Although I don’t believe their fears of being photographed have any real foundation (or sense), unless there seems to me a good public interest  reason to do so I will try to avoid taking pictures of people who clearly do not wish to be photographed.

Quite clearly at the rally in front of the Cable St mural to oppose racism, xenophobia, fascism and the upsurge of far-right populism and to show solidarity with Russian anti-fascists there were people who did not want to be photographed,  and both I and the videographer who was recording the event for the organisers were careful to avoid upsetting them. It did make for a slightly edgy situation, and there were a few times I would have liked to take a picture but did not. Except for the images of those speaking at the event, I think for all of the pictures which are dominated by a single person or small group I asked permission before making the picture. There were very few who said no, though one did hold the placard I was interested in up in front of his face.

There were half a dozen other freelance photographers who had come to photograph the event, but I think I was the only one who took pictures during the rally, with others waiting in the street outside the public park until people came out for the march – and all those who were camera-shy were appropriately masked up.It ws during the march, and particularly as it passed under the railway bridge that it became most dramatic. But although I like to make dramatic pictures when I can, the most important thing is to tell the story, and I wanted to include the pictures of the speakers and banners underneath the mural, as well as some of the rather short rally in Altab Ali park at the end of the march.

More pictures, text and captions: Solidarity with Russian anti-fascists

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

World Press Photo 2019 scandal

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Once again there is controversy around the World Press Photo awards the 2019 results of which were announced yesterday. As well as seeing the results you can also read the press release, and the winning images are also in the newspapers.

The controversy surrounds some of the work of Marco Gualazzini, winner of the Environment, stories category for his ‘The Lake Chad crisis’.  The complaint made by ‘duckrabbit’, Benjamin Chesterton, is not to be about this particular set of pictures but about the his behaviour and attitude as a photographer, and about how this is encouraged by World Press Photo. As duckrabbit writes in And the award for World Press Photo predator goes to …:

My problem with Gualazzini winning is that he’s a liar and a cheat. Don’t take my word for it. Last year he was kicked out of the KL photo awards for exactly those reasons. And yet just a few months later he’s been awarded two of the top prizes in world photography. Photojournalism is an industry that rewards racist stereotypes delivered by cheats.

In a long and detailed article he goes on to give examples of the irresponsible (and sometimes apparently illegal) way that Gualazzini has behaved towards the people that he photographs, including Indian rape and sexual abuse survivors who he identifies and in at least one case has fabricated a completely misleading story about.

Aid agencies have over the past year or so had to look hard at the activities of aid workers, with various scandals emerging.  Oxfam in particular lost confidence of many supporters when details emerged about the actions of some of its workers paying women for sex after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. What I think these revelations by duckrabbit tell us is that charities, including ActionAid and AVSI who provided access for Gualazzini to the vulnerable people he photographed in India and the Congo need to take very much greater care and responsibility for the way in which photographers work and how they use the pictures they take.

Duckrabbit makes a detailed and convincing case obviously based on considerable research, against Gualazzini, but I think he is to some extent just an example. Often looking at those large panels in the touring WPP shows I’ve felt a certain unease about the kind of attitudes the pictures show, often wondered about how some of those people in them would feel about being exposed in the way they are. Often wondered about the view that some of these largely Western big names in photography largely funded by a capitalist often very right-wing press give us of the majority world.

It’s something that makes the work of Shahidul Alam and others in agencies like Drik and Majority World and organisations such as Pathshala so important.

Women in Photojournalism

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

A excellent article by an fine photographer, Yunghi Kim, Gas Lighting in Photography, says much that I would have thought but would hardly dare say about a National Geographic article which claims that women are only now making a breakthrough into photojournalism, which the subtitle of her piece calls “Revisionist history threatens to whitewash The Silent Generation — women who paved The Way.”

Kim’s piece is far more detailed than anything I could have written, naming many women photographers (though there are some I could add, including those I’ve known personally and others from way back) who have proved themselves in what was once certainly very much a male-dominated world, and speaking from her own experience. As she says, her list “is largely drawn from US photojournalism” and there are many more from around the world who could be included,

Possibly one might quibble about the year 1997, which she states “was a breakthrough year for women in photojournalism. Looking back now, we established that women stood firmly on an even playing field across the entire industry. We had a collective voice that was raised and listened to by dint of the power and quality of our work” but she makes an excellent case for i. Certinaly as she says it was a year that women for the first time won a great many of the awards, but changes in the industry were surely more gradual and less dramatic than choosing any particular year suggests. 1997 was certainly a year in which it became very clear.

As Kim says to those who want to revise photographic history: “I am here to attest to the historical fact that there were legions of passionate and heroic women photographers who paved the roads you are walking on today. Respect.”

Debunking the Capa Myths

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

I’ve several times written about the lengthy and detailed researches into exactly what happened to Robert Capa on D-Day made by A D Coleman and his team and published in a long series of articles as their research developed.  It’s a case study in thorough and diligent research, involving expertise from various fields including military history as well as photography, and one that, although not changing the handful of photographs Capa made, has certainly shown some very different readings of them.

Most of what photographic histories and biographies have told us in the past about the circumstances in which these pictures were made has been shown to be false; either deliberate invention or imaginative contructions by those well removed from the situation and with little knowledge of it.

Rather than have to read all of the over 40 articles on Coleman’s own web site (some in several parts, with the latest episode, Alternate History: Robert Capa on D-Day (40b) a few days ago) you can now read his precis on Petapixel, still a fairly lengthy read, Debunking the Myths of Robert Capa on D-Day.

We can now be certain beyond any reasonable doubt that Capa went in, not with the first wave of the landing but rather later, and on the least heavily defended section of the beach, where US soldiers met relatively little opposition, and that he never quite made the beach, taking only a small number of pictures –  perhaps 10 or 12 – before rushing back to the landing craft and ship that had brought him there. Probably he made the right decision for a news photographer, to hurry back with those few pictures to meet his deadlines, but he does appear to have felt the need to support and elaborate an elaborate fiction to cover his actions. Capa was certainly a great story-teller, and bare truth seldom makes the best stories.

There was no darkroom accident that spoilt his film (and the story never made sense anyway.) Those men around the obstacles on the beach were not sheltering from enemy fire but getting on with the job of demolishing them. There were no bodies in his pictures, no bullets hitting the water. It wasn’t at all like the film version (and Capa’s published account was written as a film script.)

The research also looks at another Capa-related incident and image, the ‘Falling Soldier’ from the Spanish Civil War, where the detailed heavy lifting was done by others. It seems probable that the picture was not actually taken by Capa by by his partner Gerda Taro. The two worked as a team, and ‘Robert Capa’ was actually a joint invention of André Friedmann and Gerta Pohorylle; after her tragic death – the first woman war photographer to die in conflict – many of the pictures she had taken were attributed to Capa. It now seems to have been clearly shown that this was taken during a training exercise and that the soldier had merely tripped – and that no one was killed in its making.

The publication on PetaPixel comes at the start of the year in which the 75th anniversary of D-Day is to be celebrated, and already some authorities (including the ICP) are re-publishing the old, now totally discredited legends about Capa and his landing pictures. Let’s instead celebrate them (and the ‘Falling Soldier’) for what they are, powerfully iconic images which have become invested with a meaning that completely transcends the very different circumstances of their production.