Tag Archives: Digital Journalist

Grab Shots: Get Some Perspective

Planet War

Here in the United States, with politicians and pundits of all stripes yammering ad nauseum about each other’s shortcomings, and with our insatiable obsessions with media and celebrity, it’s easy to lose perspective about what’s important in the world. Despite the tolls taken by the recession, we Americans still live in a comfortable bubble marked by the personal freedoms of expression, consumption and, most fundamentally, democratic standards — liberties denied to millions of other people on the planet by oppressive governments, megalomaniac dictators and hard-fisted clerics.

Photojournalism provides us with a window into that crueler world. Here’s a sampling:

* Planet War:  Foreign Policy editors put together a powerful photo essay on the 33 conflicts “raging around the world today,” reminding us that “it’s often innocent civilians who suffer the most.” Above, an Iranian dissident in December 2009.

* 2nd Tour Hope I Don’t Die: A narrated presentation of still and video images made by Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael reflecting on his coverage of Iraq  from January 2006 to December 2008. He describes it this way: “I tried to make pictures that reflected my complex and often contradictory experiences, where the line was continuously blurred between perpetrator and victim, between hero and villain.  In time, the labels that had heretofore defined my perceptions of the world became meaningless.”

* Hell on a Small Island: Dirck Halstead writes about two photographers, Damon Winter of the New York Times and Shaul Schwarz of Reportage/Getty Images, who covered the horrific human disaster that followed the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. For them, says Halstead, “the camera becomes a shield, a protective layer between terrible death and the photographer.” Here is Winter’s gallery, and her is Schwarz’s gallery.

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Grab Shots: Afghanistan Photojournalism

Afghanistan soldier

The battlefields change, the combatants differ, the technology improves, but some things about war remain constant: Soldiers are young, innocents die and photojournalists capture the carnage. Great human photography often emerges from terrible circumstances. Here are some examples from Afghanistan:

* The Long Haul: The Digital Journalist has a piece by photojournalist Lucian Reed about his life and work in Aftghanistan. It begins: “I’ve been to Afghanistan eight times in the last 18 months. My apartment is slowly taking on the look of a caravanserai. I have more friends in Kabul than Manhattan. My mind is full of snippets of Dari, counterinsurgency strategy and half-remembered warlords, major and minor. My son – not yet quite born – will have a Pashto middle name. I make no claims to being an expert on the place but, God knows, I seem to love it.”

* Field Test, Under Fire: Freelance photojournalist Danfung Dennis writes a technical piece on on DSLR News Shooter about using the still and video capabilities of the Canon 5DmkII in Afghanistan. He starts: “The 5D Mark II is capable of unprecedented image quality, but since it is a stills camera, there are several limitations that I had to address before using this camera in a warzone.”

* Getting Exisential in Afghanistan: Photojournalist Chris Hondros trails a platoon of GI’s on a hunt for Taliban caves. Stuck halfway up a hillside he ponders: “Why am I here? How did this happen? Why exactly am I hanging on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan this morning?  I’m not in Army, I didn’t sign up for this. I should be back home, watching TV or canoodling in bed or having a strong espresso in Brooklyn. Or just about anywhere else.” (In dscriber.)

* Gallery of War: Visit Battlespace, a powerful online gallery of images from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Grab Shots: Craziness & Bizz-i-ness,

Link-gathering while I’m on hold with Adobe:

* Woodstuck: Magnum puts up a slideshow of photos by Elliot Landy from Woodstock. And, yes — since you asked — I was there.

* Crazy, man, just crazy: Dirck Halstead at The Digital Journalist gets asked, “Why would you be a photojournalist today?” And answers, “You have to be crazy.” Then adds: “I have always considered being crazy as important to a photographer as being curious.”

* Taking the biz out of news business: Jack Shafter says at the Slate that what’s bad for business just might be good for journalism: “If the downside of the battered-down barriers to entry is less pay and lower status, the potential upside is that a flood of new entrants into the field could portend a journalistic renaissance.” Now, let’s see about getting paid.

* Putting the bizz into journalism: National Press Photographers Association has a toolkit of business practices.

* Eddie Adams reviewed: Sportshooter has a review of “Eddie Adams: Vietnam.” One quote from Adams: “Making pictures in Vietnam is easy…Things are happening all around you and you just have to press a button and not get killed.”

m4s0n501
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