Archive for March, 2011

Empty Cup at Photographers Gallery

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Thanks to Jeremy Nicholl who writes the Russian Photos Blog which I’ve often linked to here for a Tweet mentioning
Empty Cup: A Case of Copyright Infringement, posted by Vancouver based John Goldsmith on his blog. Goldsmith is a freelance photographer  and currently has work in the Format festival in Derby. (This year seems very much the year of street photography with another festival in London and the show at the Museum of London; but too much is happening on the streets for me to photograph for me to find the time to get to Derby.)

I won’t go into detail about the Goldsmith article, as you should go and read it, but it involves the unauthorised use of his picture showing a woman in the window of a coffee shop reading a book by the Photographers’ Gallery and the architects O’Donnell + Tuomey  responsible for the  rebuilding of their premises (see my Zombies in Ramilees St.)  Goldsmith registered his copyright at the US Copyright Office  and posted the picture on Flickr where it quickly became one of Goldsmiths most popular images with “14,737 views to date.”

So far all he has received have been very unsatisfactory responses from both parties, with the PG director expressing some concern but passing the buck to the architects – despite the picture concerned having been displayed very large in the gallery window (where someone saw it and told Goldsmith) – and the architects refusing to accept any responsibility despite having made the image available to various magazines and web sites which published it.

I don’t know if Goldsmith belongs to a union or professional association, but had a similar situation occurred with one of my own pictures I would be pleased that I was a member of the union, who would support me in a legal case and I would expect to get a very welcome financial settlement. No reason why he should not do so without such support, but professional advice and support does make such things easier – and would almost certainly result in a faster and more beneficial result.

It’s an image that reminds me of pictures by Walker Evans, a man with a great love of windows, and indeed of others by various photographers over the years (even I think some of mine) but is a fine image, and I remember seeing it on the ‘Londonist‘ web site and thinking how inappropriate it was to be used in a feature about a gallery that over the past years has avoided photography of this genre like the plague.  Of course, I suspect with it’s new-found high profile (and impressive audience figures at the Museum of London show) that if the PG were up and running it too would be jumping on the street bandwagon.

Back on the Russian Photos Blog, Dear Photographers, Lady Gaga Wants The Copyright On Your Work. Oh, And By The Way, So Do We makes interesting reading on a related topic, although I think the answer is simply to stop photographing ‘celebrities’ of all kinds. But I suppose some photographers need the money, and it is about all some publications use these days.  Frankly I’d rather do weddings, which I think generally offer rather more scope for creative photography. Though I’ve only done three and none as a paying job.

6 Billion Ways – The Full Show

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

So long as you have Flash, have your browser set to allow scripting and a broadband connection, you can now see the full presentation as it should have been shown during 6 Billion Ways at Rich Mix.

© 1999, Peter Marshall

These days most people will be able to see the show, as so many sites need all these things, though you may need to click in a bar at the top of your browser to enable scripts for this site.

The flash presentation will adjust according to your browser window size, so if the pictures look rather small, try making the window bigger.

Alternatively, you can see the full set of 41 images on a normal (still fairly large) html page here.

Setting up this slide show reminded me why I don’t normally use Flash! Though I think it works quite well for this purpose.

6 Billion Ways at Rich Mix

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

 6 Billion Ways at Rich Mix yesterday seemed to be a very vibrant event, although I only popped in for a few minutes, largely to see the photography there, including my own. Saturdays are working days for me and I covered two other events in London for ‘My London Diary.’

The bar area at Rich Mix with one of my pictures on screen

But I wanted to see how they were using the 40 pictures I had sent them from My London Diary, and I was pleased to walk in to the busy ground floor bar area at the centre of the event as one of my images appeared on a giant screen. But I was disappointed to realise that they were only showing half of the pictures I had sent –  the full set is on the web for those of you who were unable to attend or missed half of them because you were there. I didn’t have time to stop and try and find out they were only using half of them, but it was particularly galling not only because I had spent most of a day getting the missing work ready for the project but because the half that they had lost had many of my favourite pictures in it, including this image I really like of Climate Rush and NoTRAG at Heathrow.

© 2009 Peter Marshall
Climate Rush on Tour at Heathrow with NoTRAG

I’d met the Climate Rushers, including Tamsin Omond at the centre of the picture above – at Marble Arch earlier in the day when I was photographing the ‘Million Women Rise‘ march, and told her about the showing, including the picture above.

The projection included work by two other photographers, one with pictures taken at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which I would have loved to have photographed – and there were a couple of pictures I really liked. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the photographer and when I checked this set isn’t even mentioned in the programme. The other images were by Gareth Kingdon, ‘On the Sidelines‘, showing “South Africans left behind by the free market” in the Blikkiesdorp relocation camp, and included some 360 degree panoramas, which although interesting didn’t really project too well on a normal aspect ratio screen. I’d seen some before in print and on the web where they work rather better.

I felt all of three bodies of work on show would have benefited from some related text putting it in context. It did look as if those putting the show together had some difficulty with text – perhaps because of the software they were using. I’d offered to supply my work as a normal presentation, but they apparently couldn’t cope with this, so I had attached a brief captions along the bottom of each image which were visible, but  I had also supplied a very short explanation about my work that was not used. Of course there were a few of my posters around the venues.

The sequence of three sets of photographs was also very short for the event – and most of the people sitting in the area had probably seen it go round dozens of times. It would haven been better perhaps four or five times the length, with work from more photographers.

Other exhibitions included Celebrate Peoples’ History, a collection of posters by artists in the US-based collective Just Seeds, which “remember and celebrate the struggles of ordinary people against injustice and for dignity, decent livelihoods and liberation from oppression” and Liberate Tate, which documented their interventions in major cultural institutions such as Tate Modern and Tate Britain against their acceptance of sponsorship from BP and Shell.

Also showing on some smaller screens around Rich Mix were a loop of photographs presumably taken for some of the organisations supporting the event (such as Friends of the Earth and WDM.) With a few exceptions, most were rather disappointing, with too many pictures simply concentrating on showing the t-shirts from the organisation concerned  in various events and locations – often rather more PR than photography. Several of the organisations behind the event do employ excellent photographers to show their work around the globe and far better could have been made of these displays.

I wish I had more time to stay and take part in the full programme of this large event (it ran from 10am, including events at three other local venues and ending with a final plenary at Town Hall from 7 -8pm then a party after at Rich Mix until 1 am), but I had work to do elsewhere.

World Press Photo?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

In What’s wrong with global photojournalism? Russian photographer Vladimir Vyatkinruminates on results from the world’s top press photography contest“,  the 2011 World Press Photo, and I have a great deal of sympathy with his diagnosis:

International photojournalism is seriously ill, suffering from an acute cerebrovascular disease complicated by cardiac failure – a common diagnosis for the many mortals who suffered significant physical and psychological stress as a result of the past year’s natural disasters, revolutions, ethnic conflicts, terrorist acts, government provocations and social and domestic tensions.

Of course you can avoid all that nastiness by sitting at home in front of your computer and walking around the world on Google Street View – and still win an honourable mention at WPP.  It’s a prize that I think went to the wrong person – it was after all produced by those guys at Google – and for the wrong work, which clearly has nothing to do with photojournalism.  You can read what Michael Wolf (who I think is otherwise an interesting photographer) thinks in an interview with the British Journal of Photography.

I saw his show show of work from Street View in Paris, and didn’t feel it was worth writing about, and still feel much the same  about it. You can see more on Wolf’s own web site, along with some other work which I find of much more interest.

© 2011, Peter Marshall
Paris – I found the streets more interesting that Wolf’s Street View

So my advice to all who want to succeed next year is to throw your cameras away, invest in some good ray-tracing or virtual reality software and start working on some pictures for WPP 2012. Or may be they will go retro and you should be in your darkrooms making photograms about the Arab revolution.

Rich Mix Protest Show

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Yesterday afternoon I produced a poster for the showing of some of my pictures at Rich Mix during 6 Billion Ways on Saturday. It should have been a very simple job. I still use the old software I used to teach Desk Top Publishing with around 15 years ago, well before Adobe moved over to InDesign to try and fully compete with Quark.

It was Aldus who made the Mac successful and gave it the dominance that to some extent it still enjoys in the creative industries. Pagemaker 1.0 was introduced in 1985, the year after the Apple Macintosh, and together with Apple’s LaserWriter created Desk Top Publishing, spawning a new industry – and to service this we got other software that could produce the illustrations and images that this required – including Photoshop.

Before this, even simple publishing jobs had required hugely expensive imagesetting hardware and skilled techicians along with tedious and precise paste-ups, but they could now be done quickly and accurately with a few mouse clicks by technically unskilled designers on desktop equipment costing only a small arm and a leg – and of course just a year or two later on considerably cheaper PCs.

Adobe (they bought the succesful product from Aldus) Pagemaker 6.5 came free with one of my scanners and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of its succesor InDesign but is easy to use, fast and handles text and layout superbly, and works fine with Windows XP.

It was ease of use (and the fact that it could still then be supported as an industry standard) that made me choose PageMaker to teach our students. It was far simpler, less clunky, more competent and more reliable than amateur software such as Microsoft’s Publisher (which I hated having to touch, software that should have been strangled at birth), and the output was so much better. I’m only sorry that Adobe discontinued it in 2004. A simple, effective, classic which really just needed an occasional update to keep it up to speed as operating systems etc change. But apparently what sells is feature bloat. Perhaps the future for those of us who want simple, effective software is in open-source such as Scribus, which also has the advantage of being free.

But yesterday I had great problems, as every time I imported two of my images into PageMaker it gave an error message and crashed. I tried copying them from Photoshop and pasting them in, which worked fine on screen, but they then printed black and white rather than colour. Eventually an error message gave me a clue. Some jpegs produced by Photoshop 7 (also of course from Adobe) started with a section of bytes (I think it was 637 bytes) that Adobe Pagemaker decided were illegal. Loading the jpegs into some non-Adobe software and saving them (at a similar high quality) solved the Adobe-Adobe clash. It was a poster about protest, but I hadn’t expected a walk-out by the software.

From PageMaker I exported the file as a PDF (of course another Adobe format) and checked this by printing on my own Epson printer before e-mailing the 20Mb file (its an A3 poster) for 20 or so copies to be printed. Here’s a rather smaller version (with a black border I’ve added with Photoshop to make it stand out on the page.)

© 2011, Peter Marshall

The bad news is that the projection, which we had wanted to have around 50-60 pictures has now had to be cut to 20 – and none of those in my previous post about the showing will be included. There is still time to register and attend, and there is a great free programme for Saturday at Rich Mix in 6 Billion Ways of which my pictures are just one very small part.

And of course if you can’t get there you can see those 20 pictures on line – along with around 59,980 others – at My London Diary.