Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miami Herald Photojournalist Tim Chapman Retires

Illustration by Marco Ruiz     

By Al Diaz

Smack in the middle of Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys and their illegal drug trade I decided to buy a police scanner. Within hours, the purchase propelled me into harms way, launched my career and allowed me to meet photojournalist Tim Chapman.

The year 1979, a lone Miami Police officer staking out a Little Havana home calls for back up when the suspects inside decide to flee with their illicit drugs. Not far to drive from my childhood home, I arrive hearing sirens blaring, tires screeching and see guns everywhere.

Miami Police check Tim Chapman's credentials in 1979.
In the middle of all this madness I see a photographer in the middle of the street standing face-to-face arguing with a cop. I shoot a picture. The officers supervisor approached the rookie cop and said to leave Chapman alone, he’s seen more action than you have.

The next day Chapman’s photos are spread across the front page of The Miami Herald and mine on the AP wires.

After 40 years on the job, Tim Chapman is retiring from The Miami Herald on December 31. He’s covered wars, hurricanes, riots, earthquakes, mass exoduses from Cuba, kidnappings, plane crashes, death and mayhem including Guyana’s Jonestown massacre in 1978.

He’s been on vacation this week, Chapman’s last day on the job actually working? December 21, just in case the Mayan Prophecy of an apocalypse were to come true and it needed to be covered.

Photo By Bill Cooke    
By Carl Hiaasen
Miami Herald Columnist
Friend and Accomplice
There’s not enough space on this page for every Tim Chapman story, but most are true. He’s been a legend in this business for decades. With retirement he ascends to mythic.

Yes, he once drove cross-state in a Herald van with a loaded gun, a bloody knife and a severed alligator tail. Yes, he once used the lens of a company Nikon to batter some macho fool who’d tried to push him off of public property. (Tim then straddled the poor twit and snapped off 36 frames.)

Yes, he once tested an electric dog collar on himself before fitting it on his Labrador. (The sight of Tim flopping on the kitchen floor was all that the dog needed to see; from then on, the animal came running whenever Tim called).

And, yes, he once paid a voodoo priestess in Haiti to put a curse on an unpopular photo editor back in Miami -- and, yes, it worked.

The line between fearless and crazy is hazy, and sometimes we weren’t sure if Tim had crossed over. It wasn’t because of a death wish that I always asked to ride with him; I just knew that he always went where the big news was. Always.

One afternoon, during one of Miami’s bloody episodes of civil unrest, Barry Bearak and I rode into the riot zone with Tim, who wore a flak jacket and told us to stay low in our seats because of the sniper fire. Whenever he’d jump out to shoot pictures, we’d dart around interviewing bystanders.

After about an hour Tim decided he was in the mood for (I swear to God) watermelon. So he screeched to a halt beside a fruit stand on one of those smoldering streets, and there he purchased two freakishly large melons.

As he walked back toward the car – and he took his sweet time – Barry and I were debating which of us was going to drive after Tim got shot.

He didn’t even get grazed, of course, because he always knew how long to stay, and when to run. Once we were in a Nassau crack house talking to (who else?) crackheads, when Tim turned to me and quietly said, “It’s time to go.”

Our interview subjects had been speculating as to the potential resale value of Tim’s camera gear and, unknown to me, two of them had gone to a bedroom to get guns. Tim and I took off, only to find that our driver had already fled the neighborhood. 

Most important: The photos that Tim took inside that house, way before crack cocaine ever reached America, were phenomenal.

Wise photo editors let Tim do what he did best, which was cover the news. The one radio dispatch guaranteed to pitch him into a seething rage: “Hey, Tim, we need some feature art.”

You did not send Chapman to take pictures at Art Basel. You did not send him to shoot a Dolphins game. You did not send him to the freaking Silver Knights.

You sent him to fires and wars and plane crashes and mass suicides in Guyana. You sent him to crawl the jungles of Nicaragua with armed rebels. You sent him to shoot the guarded island mansion of a crooked prime minister (where he rented a plane and flew in low “with the sun at our backs”).

You sent him to a triple-homicide in Medley (or was it a quadruple?), where he bustled around as cheerily as Martha Stewart in an herb garden. I remember because I was there.

Nobody who ever set foot in the Herald newsroom loved hard news more than Tim Chapman, or fought harder to get it into the paper. The business has changed, but Tim never did, never would.

And those of us who got to ride with him in those kick-ass days cherish every harrowing memory.

Tim Chapman's send off party at The Miami Herald                                      Photos By Al Diaz
Rick Hirsch with a Miami Herald spoof page for Tim Chapman 

Jordan Levin with Tim Chapman

David Landsberg, President and Publisher with Chapman

Photo Editor David Walters hands Chapman a cigar lighter.
The boss, Roman Lyskowski hands Chapman a copy of  The Exile Experience
on the Cuban Exodus.
Chapman plunges a cigar in his going away cake and mocks lighting it up.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Buy an iPhone, voila, you are a photojournalist!

"A billion roaming photojournalists" How do I compete against that? Who needs a four-year photojournalism degree? Buy an iPhone, voila, you are a photojournalist!

Here is the latest iPhone 5 commercial from Sprint.

This post is not a commentary on photojournalists using iphones as a tool.

It is meant to highlight the Sprint video and comment on the language used in an advertisement to achieve a desired effect on people. It implies that a consumer is a photojournalist just because they are using an iPhone 5 to take photos and post photos on social media.

I am sorry but if I buy a hammer does that make me a carpenter?
If I buy a thermometer, voila, I am one of a billion roaming doctors?

Consumers have been using cameras for over a century. I don't recall anyone ever calling these consumers, who share their photos, as photojournalists.

Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (e.g., documentary photography,social documentary photographystreet photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work is both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media.  
Source: Wikipedia

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Legal Lens: Instagram's Legal Snafu

The Legal Lens
with Samuel Lewis

Q. Over the last few days, there have been quite a number of postings on Facebook about Instagram, with various people and organizations threatening to boycott the service.  Will Instagram have the right to license images for advertising purposes?

A. What you’ve witnessed is the result of a company attempting to impose heavy-handed terms and conditions on its users.  The uproar started when Instagram announced that it would be changing its Terms of Use (TOU) effective January, 2013.  While perhaps not Instagram’s intention, under the new TOU, users give Instagram the right to use a user’s name, likeness, and even photos in advertising.  The TOU also contain a series of representations, including that the user posting photographs is not violating any privacy rights, and that the user will pay all royalties and fees owing to any person by virtue of a photograph being posted to Instagram.  Separately, these terms can be trouble enough, but together, they have the potential for creating a nightmare situation.

Imagine for a moment that the new TOU go into effect, and that some time later, you used Instagram to post a photograph of a professional athlete prior to a sporting event.  Under those TOU, Instagram has the right to license that image for advertising purposes, and Instgram is not obligated to share the license fees/royalties with you.  Now, it’s bad enough that you’re missing out on sharing in the license fees for the commercial use of one of your images, but under this scenario, the TOU go a step further to add insult to injury.  Since you probably didn’t obtain a model release from the athlete featured in your photo, the athlete now has a claim for the use of his or her image in connection with advertising.  Under the TOU, however, you, the photographer, who used the Instagram service, are responsible for paying “all royalties, fees, and any other monies owing any person by reason of [photos] you post on or through the Instagram service.”  So at the end, Instagram gets to keep the license fees for the commercial use of your photo, and you get to pay the athlete who didn’t sign a model release.

In response to the TOU that were scheduled to goes into effect, National Geographic—who in early December was ranked as the number 1 media brand on Instagram with 588,000 Instagram followers—posted an announcement that it was suspending new posts.  The announcement reads:  “@NatGeo is suspending new posts to Instagram.  We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service and if they remain as presented we may close our account.”

Q. You mentioned that the TOU were scheduled to go into effect.  Will they be going into effect?

A. That really seems to be the big question right now.  Instagram’s co-founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom, announced that it was not his company’s intention of selling users’ photos.  However, that did not stop numerous celebrities and companies from announcing publicly that they would discontinue use of Instagram.  In an apparent effort to avoid losing more users over the TOU snafu, Instagram has now scrapped the TOU that were scheduled to go into effect on January 16, 2013, and replaced them with a new set of new terms.  While the most recent TOU seem to omit some of the language that sparked the uproar, it still includes some potentially problematic verbiage.

Under the most recent TOU, the license that users grant to Instagram is “royalty-free” and “sub-licensable,” meaning that Instagram will have the right to license the photos posted through the service without having to share royalties or license fees with the photographers.  The only exception to the license is Instagram’s privacy policy.  While it may be possible for individual users to indicate that photos are private and not for public viewing, that limitation won’t help entities like National Geographic.

It also bears noting that the new TOU may not avoid the nightmare situation I’ve already described.  They are just not as in-your-face as the TOU that sparked the uproar.

The new TOU also contain some fairly comprehensive language that limits Instagram’s liability, requires its users to pay the cost of defending Instagram against claims made by virtue of images posted to the service, and a provision that significantly limits the time in which a user may bring a claim against Instagram.

The new terms also include an arbitration provision.  Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution, and it allows people to resolve their disputes as they would in court.  There are pros and cons to arbitration, which are more thoroughly explained in my recent article, Arbitration Friend Or Foe? ( which appeared in the November 2012 Digital Photo Pro magazine.  One potentially positive aspect of the TOU is that it allow users to opt out of arbitration by notifying Instagram in writing within 30 days of the date the user became subject to the arbitration terms (for existing users, that’s within 30 days of when the new terms go into effect), and the notice must be sent to:  Instagram, LLC ATTN: Arbitration Opt-out 1601 Willow Rd. Menlo Park, CA 94025.  Given the time-limitation, users of the service should decide for themselves whether to reject the arbitration and notify Instagram of that decision.

The new TOU contain many more changes than I’ve mentioned.  Anyone who uses Instagram should really compare the old terms and new terms to get a sense of what will be changing.  The current terms can be found here:

and the terms scheduled to go into effect on January 19, 2013 can be found here:

Samuel Lewis is a Board Certified Intellectual Property law specialist and partner at Feldman Gale, P.A. in Miami, Florida, and a professional photographer who has covered sporting events for more than twenty-five years.  He can be reached at or

Note:  The information appearing in this blog entry is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and should not be construed as such.  Rather, the information is provided solely for educational purposes by providing general information about the law.  This blog is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice in the state where your business is based or where you live.

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Great Holiday Specials from Think Tank Photo

Are you having a difficult time deciding what gift to buy for the Holidays? You're in luck! Think Tank Photo is offering a limited edition Custom Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card holders made with special fabrics selected by their Design Board members. They come in a range of prints and materials from purple corduroy to sushi print and even faux fur! They make great stocking stuffers for your friends, family and even for yourself! Each wallet holds up to 8 CF or SD cards. 

New shipments of Think Tank Photo's newest bags have arrived including the Airport 4-Sight, Airport Navigator, CityWalker and Retrospective shoulder bags. With free domestic ground shipping for the holidays, most orders placed by 1pm PST Monday through Friday will ship the same day. 

Free Shipping and Holiday Deadlines
Need your gift to arrive by December 25th? Simply place your order by Friday, December 14th and with our free shipping option your gift will arrive on time, anywhere within the US. Think Tank Photo is offering free FedEx Ground shipping for US shipping addresses and free USPS Priority shipping for PO Box, APO, or FPO addresses through December. Need an order expedited? Give TTP a call and they can provide you with an up to date estimate for delivery times specific to your location. Email customer service at or give them a call at (866)558-4465. Support my blog by telling them I sent you.

Airport 4-Sight Price Reduction
The new four wheeled rolling camera bag, the Airport 4-Sight, is now available at a temporary $50 price reduction to $249.75 in limited quantities throughout the month of December. We invite you to explore the bag that has created an entirely new segment of camera carrying solutions. With four swiveling wheels, you are free to move about the airplane cabin like never before. Unlike traditional two wheeled rolling bags, the 4-Sight can be rolled along side you on all four wheels, reducing fatigue while hauling gear around town or through crowded airports. Best holiday wishes from the folks at Think Tank Photo and TTP Affiliate Al Diaz!