Friday, February 28, 2020

Four Time Pulitzer Prize Winner Carol Guzy Defends POY Winning Photojournalists

Four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Carol Guzy, says message thread on Facebook does a disservice to the photojournalists that made POY winning images and the people that are portrayed in them.

Carol Guzy
Time on my hands with wretched lungs and new-puppy duty, so felt compelled to comment (forgive the long 2 cents):
With all due respect, I feel there is a message thread (below) that does a disservice to the photojournalists that made POY winning images and most importantly the people portrayed in them. It’s quite easy from a place of comfort and privilege to debate sophistication of visual storytelling. Much harder when you are mired in a brutal reality of conflict, hunger, oppression, etc. Yes, ‘black and brown’ inhabitants of our planet are still disproportionally suffering. Anyone struggling in those shadows of despair, of any race, gender, ethnicity etc. may be grateful for journalists that cared enough to highlight a desperate situation and hopefully promote change. 
Contest judging is subjective and it’s easy to second-guess. Of course it would be great to have more dialogue about the process - contests should be less about winning and more about learning. POY does a live stream, which is commendable and should be the norm. Looking at the images that placed, I’m trying to understand many of these comments, including the need for hope rather than such emphasis on problems. First place in portrait series is a delightful look at a slice of humanity. Coney Island piece is positively charming. We do need balance in coverage - most vitally to document news situations and issues in dire need of change; but also to celebrate the poetry of life. We can all discuss and debate the selections of the judges but I believe many of the photojournalists recognized are compassionate professionals. If I was in the dire circumstances they have portrayed, I would be grateful for their concern. We can throw around that word cliché - but the situation is anything but cliché to a desperate woman holding her starving baby whatever the color of her skin. 
It seems unfair to generalize, painting all winning entries with the same brush of disapproval. There are many deserving images from 2020 that didn’t place and I too would have perhaps chosen differently, but narrowing it to the best is a difficult task. Perhaps there should be a folder of photos that lasted through final rounds so viewers have a wider range of ‘best’ with detailed discussion. It would be helpful if the judges (that volunteer their time) would weigh in about their choices that are being criticized. Also would love to hear from the photographers about their thought process and heart when taking the pictures. Most vitally would be the voice of people in the pictures about any feelings of exploitation - or the opposite. Always, there are as many opinions about photographs as there are pictures in each category. Different set of judges = different set of photos. Healthy debate should be encouraged for us all to visually evolve but done in a way that is constructive. Some favorite images from this past year didn’t win but is that a reason to diss all those that did? 
Many here say it’s a matter of ‘how’ we report a story, not the fact we should indeed continue to document poverty and the pressing issues that continue to plague our world. Diversity in journalism for coverage of our diverse world is ideal and necessary. We do our best to translate, but it’s never the same as walking in another’s shoes. Of course, it’s crucial to spend time and portray a more intimate view of experiences and issues - but how many have that luxury in today’s state of photojournalism? Best to seek solutions not only complain about contest wins. Focus on how to better equip photojournalists with the resources it takes to spend the time necessary for coverage with more depth. For instance, publications can help struggling photographers by supporting long-form journalism in all ways; truly committing to the story and the people that have the courage to open up their lives to our cameras; honoring the instincts of photojournalists by having their back when the story needs more time; encouragement and understanding for a journalist’s wellbeing when witnessing so much of the sorrows and inequities of this world yet still putting the narrative over their own needs as they pursue truth. It’s really hard to stay with a story when it’s ripping your own heart to shreds. Photographers also need emotionally sophisticated and caring editors so they can make the intimate images so many here are demanding that better represent minorities especially. It’s easy to applaud great immersive photojournalism but how many in management truly champion it by dedicating the necessary time and funds. Tangible assistance would be paying freelancers properly and not demanding rights to their images for a mere day rate. Ever. The press claims to be a watchdog of the world, yet we treat our own so unfairly. So many young photographers have the passion for poignant comprehensive storytelling, yet can’t fund their projects much less pay their bills. Surely that’s as important as the ‘message’ sent by contest judging. 
I truly believe most photojournalists are concerned and caring individuals that do their best to highlight issues. Their goal is not to produce “poverty porn” – ugh, an awful term. The only thing pornographic about poverty is that it is still so pervasive - along with fear, conflict, repression, inequality and on and on. Perhaps society should find these issues most intolerable not the pictures that remind us of it. There are photographers on this thread whose work I deeply respect, as their opinions. But I also feel sad for the winners that are having their images dissected in this way. We can all enhance our own level of empathy and move forward with the way we visually represent those who trust us with telling their stories. Can we all be humble enough to know we can each strive to do better? I hope to not merely coach from a safe and cozy chair, but also mentor young photographers in the trenches we share with those that we document. 
There will possibly be backlash to this message, but just trying to speak for the voiceless - this time the journalists who need support for their in-depth projects and those honored by POY for outstanding work that have all been lumped into the same criticisms with this message thread. I didn’t win, but would like to celebrate many of our colleagues who did.

Monday, February 24, 2020

3 Legged Thing Pro Team Member Al Diaz

In April, it will be a year that I have had the honor of being a 3LT Pro Team member.

3 Legged Thing was founded by Danny Lenihan back in 2010. It all started in a Chicken Shed, in Stagsden, Bedfordshire. Danny had a small UK lighting business and a commercial photography studio. A collector of gear, Danny had half a dozen tripods, all for different purposes, and it was this that inspired him to design something truly different. Having already brought to market two tripods, for studio use, Danny set about designing what would become an industry benchmark in camera support technology.

I've been using their products for several years now and I'm completely satisfied with Winston 2.0, their most powerful and stable tripod system. Along with several accessories, I also have Alan, 3LT's professional monopod I use almost daily.

Pro Team
Published on April 1st, 2019 | by Shannon Walford

Pro Team: Al Diaz

Our Pro Team are a fantastic group of talented photographers, many of whom have used 3 Legged Thing tripods and accessories for several years. Each month we introduce you to different members of the team, using short Q&As to give you some insight into how they work, what equipment they use, and how they became professional photographers.
Next in the series is Al Diaz, a Miami based photojournalist who blogs about his work assignments, issues affecting visual journalists today, products, gear, technology and events as well as news and information regarding the photographic industry.
What is your earliest memory of handling a camera?
“During my youth, I earned enough cash cutting all my neighbour’s lawns at five bucks a pop so I could buy my first camera. At the time, the “Mamamiya” 500 DTL film camera retailed for about $120 at Zayre department store in Miami. At 14 years old, I knew nothing about sales taxes, so when I whipped out all my cash the cashier said I was a bit short. Fortunately, my dad graciously covered the difference. 
“As a freshman in high school, Gus Pupo-Mayo, an upperclassman, further sparked my interest in photography when I walked into a dimly lit room and saw Gus photographing a cone, a sphere and a square resting on a table as he slowly moved a single light bulb to see the effect of light and shadow on the objects. Gus saw my puzzled look and went on to explain that he was taking a photography course by mail and suggested that I should join the school’s camera club. By my senior year, I was photographing for the school newspaper and yearbook. Gus went on to become the founding President and CEO of MGM Networks Latin America and I’ve been living the dream as a photojournalist at the Miami Herald for 35 years.”
Miami Heat Media Day
–  “Miami Heat players pose for a portrait before the start of the season during Miami Heat media day at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on Monday, September 24, 2018.”
Was there a single event that made you decide to become a professional photographer?
“Allergies, yep! I wanted to be a carpenter like my dad but working at the wood shop one summer killed that idea. My face would turn red and my nose would be dribbling from all the sawdust particles I was allergic to. I figured plan A was not going to work out so plan B in photography might be a better fit.”
 Are there any strange/unusual items in your photo bag?
“Yes, alien tripods! In my camera bag, there are 3 Legged Things like the DOCZ stabiliser foot mounted on my Alan monopod. And then there is Winston Churchill resurrected as a tripod of all things, powerful, resolute and steadfast carrying an AirHed 360.”
Coach Benedick Hyppolite
– “Carol City High School’s head coach Benedick Hyppolite in the locker room on Monday, August 21, 2017.”
What’s in your kit bag?
 “Lately, I’ve been using the DJI Mavic PRO drone stored in a Think Tank Photo Hubba Hubba Hiney that can be used as a belt pack or shoulder bag. My TTP ShapeShifter V2 carries my laptop, card reader, cables, etc. My daily assignments dictate what to carry in my three TTP Airport Security rollers. These are my options:
  • Two Canon EOS-1D X’s
  • One Canon 5D Mark III
  • Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM lens
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L II USM lens
  • Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens
  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens
  • Canon EF 400 f/2.8L IS II USM lens
  • Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS lens USM with built-in Extender 1.4x
  • Canon XA10 camcorder, cables, and audio gear.
“For location lighting, I have two TTPProduction Manager 40’s filled with Dynalite strobes, light modifiers, light stands and PocketWizard remotes. The TTP Airport International V2 roller carries four Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT’s with all the accessories. I usually strap 3 Legged Thing’s Alan monopod and/or a Winston Churchill tripod on to the side of the rollers.”
Fight promoter "Dada 5000"
– “Fight promoter “Dada 5000″, Dhafir Harris, puts on backyard fights at his mother’s house that go viral on YouTube and have been the subject of documentaries. Sometimes the men fight until they are unconscious. There’ s no gloves and occasionally, there’s a cage.” 
You’ve covered natural disasters, political campaigns, sports championships, temperamental celebrities, and angry mobs, are there any early lessons in your career that you recall?
“There are several life lessons that I learned from my mentors. Here’s one lesson I still follow daily.
“In 1980 I was just starting to work as a stringer freelancing for the Associated Press when race riots broke out in Miami. The city burned following the acquittal of four white Miami-Dade Police officers charged in the beating death of African-American, Arthur McDuffie. 
“Days later U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with local leaders in a meeting that quickly turned ugly. Secret Service agents rushed the President out of the room.  As Carter’s motorcade pulled away, the large crowd booed and threw trash, a beer bottle bounced off the roof of Carter’s limousine. I was positioned across the street and photographed the drama as it unfolded.
“Upon returning to the office, AP staff photographers rushed to process their 35mm Kodak black & white Tri-X film. As prints were being made and transmitted worldwide, a couple of AP staffers scanned through my negatives with a loupe, magnifying the images, but nothing caught their interest until AP Florida photography editor, Phil Sandlin had a look. 
“Sandlin reviewed the negatives one by one, never skipping a frame, until he stopped, turned and smiled. Sandlin found an image showing the bottle at mid-flight bouncing off the roof of Carter’s limo. He quickly ran off to make a B&W print then placed it on the drum scanner and transmitted.
“Sandlin taught me to always look at every frame. A high bar I hold for myself and anyone else that edits my work. That lesson has helped me find hidden gems on many occasions.” 
Robo Cops
– “City of Miami police in riot gear, fire pepper spray and advance on demonstrators who massed along the city’s Biscayne Boulevard protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas meeting in Miami.”
How would you describe your style of photography?
“My friend, photojournalist Patrick Farrell, says I’m like a utility player in baseball. I can play any position on demand and consistently excel at it. Give me anything and I’ll hit it out of the park photographically for 1A with style.”
“May the best shots be yours!” – Al Diaz

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Sunday Still: Child's Play

The Sunday Still
from Patrick Farrell
Welcome to photojournalist Patrick Farrell's weekly feature, The Sunday Still. Farrell selects one image each week that showcases the best photojournalism by photojournalists from around the world. The feature runs weekly in The Sunday Long Read. The goal of the newsletter, edited by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman, is to put the week’s best journalism in your hands every Sunday morning.

Child's Play

New York Times opinion writer Margaret Renkl asked this past week if photos of suffering children still have the power to elicit compassion and spur action. As if in response to her column, “When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Tears,” Anadolu Agency photographer Muhammed Said shared a stirring photo on Feb. 18 while covering displaced families fleeing violence in Syria. Three mischievous children, bundled for warmth in sub-zero temperatures, peek from their makeshift, mud-splattered shelter in an overcrowded camp, seemingly impervious to the danger. Only the older boy standing above them shows a trace of concern. Do images of the helpless still have the capacity to stir help? In our polarized, image-saturated times, the empathy triggered by a single, powerful photograph may be the one thing humans can still agree upon.

Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he worked from 1987 to 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Sunday Still: This Little Light & Shooting Star

Photojournalist Patrick Farrell has joined the blog with his weekly feature, The Sunday Still. Farrell selects one image each week that showcases the best photojournalism by photojournalists from around the world. The feature runs weekly in The Sunday Long Read. The goal of the newsletter, edited by Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman, is to put the week’s best journalism in your hands every Sunday morning.

This Little Light

“Available light is any damn light that is available,” said American photojournalist and photo essay master W. Eugene Smith. Korean photographer Ahn Young-joon spotted the light from a smartphone while shooting a mass wedding ceremony on Feb. 7 at the 25,000-seat CheongShim Peace World Center in Gapyeong, South Korea. By choosing not to expose for the dimly-lit scene and waiting patiently for the fleeting moment when the light illuminated a bride’s face, the photographer captured a compelling image as South Korean and foreign couples exchanged or reaffirmed marriage vows in the Unification Church's mass wedding despite coronavirus fears.


Shooting star

It takes a split second—and endless preparation—to snap an iconic sports photo. When tasked with covering one of the greatest athletes of all time like LeBron James, you need to think of every possible angle to capture the many superhuman ways he gets the ball through the hoop. Andrew D. Bernstein, team photographer for the Los Angeles Lakers, employs five remote cameras carefully sunk in different locations aimed at the front of the basket, all triggered by a remote on his handheld camera down court. Bernstein’s prep work and timing paid off Feb. 6, when he captured a panoramic image of James’ two-handed reverse windmill dunk from a remote camera, freezing an eerily familiar moment during the game against the Houston Rockets at the STAPLES Center in LA. “There’s an element of luck in there,” Bernstein told Sports Illustrated the next day, “but as the great Sports Illustrated photographer Walter Iooss said, ‘luck benefits the most prepared.’

Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he worked from 1987 to 2019. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management at the University of Miami School of Communication.