We all know at least one photographer like the one illustrated here, don’t we? Find it here.
Photojournalism veteran Dave LaBelle talks about why effective visual storytelling is about the subject, not the story teller.
Dave’s 35 years in print photojournalism included a stint with The Chanute Tribune about the time I started kicking out Bingers for The Wichita Eagle.
Wichita artist Michael Pointer sent the following email along with a handful of photos from inside the The Afghanistan Dental Relief Project compound in Kabul:
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Hello to you all,
I hope this finds you all well and happy. I am. Thursday morning, the twelfth I think, the alarm clock came in the form of a big explosion nearby. I don’t know much about it except that I wasn’t ready to get up yet. It wasn’t reported on the news here probably to keep the Taliban from benefiting from the publicity. Life goes on.
I was hoping to get this off to you all on Friday the 13th but the internet didn’t cooperate and when it started to we would lose our electricity. I intended to do a series of still life images I’ve been making but I got sidetracked. Instead all of these photos are from inside the compound or just outside the front door. With security in the city being rather poor I have stayed close to home. These will give you an interior sense of being in the compound as well as a good representation of what it feels like to be stuck in here. The workmen digging a drainage ditch down our street provided some good opportunities to photograph old men in turbans. You can’t have too many photos of that. I also continue to be fascinated by the anthropomorphic qualities of the giant sunflowers here and it’s a good thing too as they tore out all of the garden yesterday….
Well that’s about all I have to report right now. The Afghan government is very destabilized and apparently there will be some violence around Karzai’s inauguration ceremony.
I think I’ll go.
Take it easy and love to you all,
Several weeks had passed since I’d heard from Wichita artist Michael Pointer, teaching dental technicians the ropes in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Because of the escalation of suicide bombings in Kabul, I was more than a little concerned for his welfare, so last night I tracked down Michael’s father Ed Pointer, who has his own work exhibited at the Upfront gallery on east Douglas.
Ed had talked with Michael on Monday, he said, and he was doing fine, at least as of Monday.
This morning I received an email from Michael with some of his recent pictures. Here’s a slide show with Michael’s commentary below.
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“As an artist I am heavily influenced by the environment I’m in — it just comes through in my work. However, while many of these images are rather emotionally dark they are not necessarily indicative of my mood here. I find living here very exciting and intensely interesting so my worst mood is for most people what would constitute a very good mood. The ecstasy of my good moods is the energy I use to create.”
“At an altitude slightly above twelve thousand feet, in the Central Andean region of Peru, pollution is a fact of life for the inhabitants of La Oroya. Since 1922, the city of La Oroya has been exposed to toxic emissions released from the Doe Run Peru metal smelting plant….”
“…Doe Run Peru is a subsidiary of Missouri-based Doe Run, the world’s largest primary lead producer and the world’s second largest total lead producer. Doe Run is part of the privately held New York-based Renco group….”
“…Peru’s state mining company Centromin operated the 80-year-old La Oroya facility for 25 years before Doe Run bought it in 1997. The smelter processes concentrates, producing 11 metals and nine by-products, including copper, lead, zinc and silver.”
“A Health Ministry study from the government of Peru showed that 90% of the children tested had lead poisoning, a condition, which causes mental retardation, hyperactivity, liver and kidney disease and even death. Lab studies revealed that many of these children had levels of lead in their bodies four times greater than what the World Health Organization considers the normal amount. In addition to brain damage, children are at high risk of developing lung cancer as well as other respiratory ailments, skin conditions and digestive disorders. As the plant continues to release lead, copper, zinc and sulfur dioxide into the air on a daily basis, generations of young children will be exposed to environmental and health risks.”
Remotely related: “Congress approves buyouts for Treece”
Last weekend was a beautiful time for fall colors in the area. I headed down to the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas to document the day (well, most of it). I set up my camera in a great spot and attached an intervalometer to my Canon 30D. It’s a device that can be programmed to take pictures in intervals that you select. I chose to shoot one frame per minute from sunrise to sunset. The camera had to be taken down around 4 p.m., so I shot most of the day. Enjoy. The music is courtesy of Garage Band.
“He has spent years in poor neighborhoods exploring not just physical violence but what he calls the “quiet violence of letting families fall apart, the violence of segregation and isolation.”
—–From the New York Times photography blog, Lens, where Rodriguez talks about his work and approach in an excellent multimedia piece.
I received an email a few weeks ago, forwarded from Paul Hudson at Lawrence Photo, from Ken Vandruff, director of communications for Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The email reads, in part, “Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau is working to update and improve the photo library that we use to promote Wichita as a convention and tourism destination. I am trying to make contact with photographers who would be willing to participate in this project….
“I want to set up a meeting with interested photographers who like to shoot editorially as well and commercial-style to determine who is interested in assisting with this project. I have a limited budget available, so I would hope to work out a co-operative arrangement offering courtesy credit for each use of the images they are willing to share.”
In a followup email I asked Ken about his “limited budget.”
He replied, “To be honest, ‘limited budget’ means I’d like to work out pro-bono agreements if at all possible.” He further explained, “Currently, Go Wichita works with several photographers in this manner. They give us permission to use their photos for the noncommercial promotion of Wichita as a destination for tourists and conventions. In exchange, we give the photographer credit each time his or her photo is used.”
The way I figure, there are two very basic principles of Economics 101 at work here, the first being, the value of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.
The other is about scarcity: as the availability of something increases, it’s inherent value decreases. It follows that, people will not pay for something freely available.
Everyone has a full-auto digital camera, everyone wants to be published and people who need photographs are trolling for freebies. It’s not even a buyer’s market anymore.
Many aspiring photographers assume that if they provide a few free images it will somehow help them sell pictures later. That may work for street drugs, but that’s not how it works for photography.
Gary Crabbe says as much in his blog, Enlightened Images when asked about working for free in exchange for a courtesy credit line: “That kind of exposure will very very very rarely ever get you any additional work. Plus, once a magazine gets you to work for free, you will most likely never be able to stand up and say, “Now please pay me for the next job.” There won’t be a next job. They’ll move on to find the next photographer who wants to work for the lure of credit and exposure.”
However, if people want to give away their work, that’s fine by me. I’ve done pro bono work for various charity and mission outfits myself. We all make our own choices. Even celeb photographer Annie Lebiovitz, who is facing bankruptcy, works for free sometimes.
Ken is meeting with interested photographers October 29, 2009 8:00 AM-9:30 AM at the Go Wichita office at 515 S Main, Suite 115. He asks for RSVPs no later than Tuesday, Oct. 27 to Danika Swoyer at email@example.com
Doris Johnson takes her Chihuahuas Poncha and Sage for their daily afternoon walk through Riverside. “Every day,” she said, rolling her eyes. “And every day I say, ‘Here we go again’.”
Knowing there’s more to life than newspaper photography (duh), for the past several years I’ve been looking at the work others are doing for NGOs (non-governmental organizations), particularly work done for humanitarian agencies.
Today I stumbled across this photograph by a fellow named David Taggart, a wonderful example of great street photography, but with a profundity most street photography — particularly my own — seems to lack.
Usually altruistic photographers lean toward pathos in their images. Newspaper photographers love pathos, including yours truly, because editors and reporters do. Let’s face it, pathos is photogenic.
Here’s some background about Mr. Taggart:
“Through the sale of some of his work he has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities and foundations. He also gives of his time and skills to Voices 4 Children Foundation, a Miami-Dade organization that provides funding for legal representation for neglected or abused children, by teaching photography to children in the program.”
And check out his Kansas pictures.