When National Geographic published Beth Moon’s images of “the world’s oldest trees by starlight,” seasoned astrophotographers like Adrien Mauduit cried foul. Not only were sections of the sky cloned, but specific stars were appearing in portions of the sky that were physical impossibilities. As other astrophotographers chimed in, a microbiologist emerged as the most eagle-eyed of the bunch. Dr. Elisabeth Bik, a science consultant who runs Microbiome Digest (@microbiomdigest), started finding more manipulation in Moon’s work, as well as other images on the Nat Geo website and by photographers like Steve McCurry.
A group of boys in Baraboo, WI assembled for a junior prom photo and posed with a Nazi salute. One of the boys posted the image to Twitter with the caption “We even got the black kid to throw it up.” In the midst of public outrage, it was revealed that a professional photographer not only took the image, but directed them to “wave goodbye.”
I’ve read The Onion headlines and McSweeney’s pieces that have knocked me off my chair. I can still remember staying up late during high school to watch Saturday Night Live sketches like “Change Bank,” or Dave Chapelle’s Killing Me Softly on HBO. I’m a person who can appreciate good humor and satire.
This is neither.
Eye-rolls, shrugs, and barbs greeted the $120,000 Grand Prize winner of Dubai’s HIPA Photography Prize. Malaysian photographer Edwin Ong’s photo of a partially blind Vietnamese woman carrying her baby was derided for representing yet another “poverty porn” contest winner before it was suggested that the image was staged by photographer Ab Rashid.
Imagine a website that convinces its users to upload free content and builds social signals (e.g. likes and view counts) to make the site addictive. Then imagine the company using the usage data as a referral mechanism to make money without compensating the content producers. It’s not Facebook, it’s Unsplash, and it’s terrible for photographers.
Now imagine a huge website provider partnering with Unsplash to distribute the photography for free, and basically send the message that photography has no value. Stop imagining because Squarespace just did it.
In the U.S. and most industrialized nations, we have a collective infatuation with technology but a poor understanding of its effects – both intended and unintended. We love asking Siri to play our favorite song, but don’t fully consider the privacy implications of allowing the device to persistently listen to us. We love the convenience of smartphones, so much so that we’re willing to engage in destructive behavior like texting while driving. And we love the connectedness of social media, but are virtually powerless to the dopamine-dependent culture of likes and comments.
It’s September which means another generation of Apple iPhones. This year, the iPhone XS (pronounced “ten ess”) adds a slightly larger sensor plus significantly more computing power via the A12 Bionic Chip to enhance the phone’s image signal processing.
The Wellcome Trust is the world’s second largest charitable trust with an endowment of approximately £23.2 billion (~USD$30 billion). For the past 20 years, it has produced a photo contest called the Wellcome Image Awards, and this year, it rebranded the contest as the Wellcome Photography Prize.
The Prize is free to enter, and images can be submitted into one of four categories. Each category winner receives £1,250 while the overall winner receives a prize of £15,000 (~USD$19,000). Furthermore, the winners and shortlist entries will be displayed at the Lethaby Gallery of the University of the Arts London.
While a university student, author Shubnum Khan signed a model release in exchange for professional portraits as a part of a project by photographer XX billed as “The 100 Faces Shoot.” Unbeknownst to her at the time, the photographer started licensing the images as stock photography, and Khan’s visage started to appear in advertisements around the world selling everything from McDonald’s hamburgers to hyper pigmentation cream to management course materials.
In the face of breaking news, smartphones have made everyone a frontline reporter, and social media has allowed users to become self-publishers. However, with a rare exceptions, most news content still relies on traditional media for mass distribution. Junior producers at large news gathering organizations often attempt to obtain licensing rights directly from individuals via social media for photo and video that might not be available through wire services like AP, Reuters and AFP.