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.
Over the weekend, Ellicott City, Maryland was pummeled by massive rainfall, which triggered devastating flash floods through the historic district of town. Resident Max Robinson was trapped in an apartment building near Main St and Maryland Ave when he started documenting what transpired on Twitter.
As a kid who grew up with a shelf filled with yellow spines, I can attest to the rhythm and general predictability of a National Geographic cover. With few exceptions (most notably those holographic covers from the 1980s), cover photography from the 1970s, 80s and 90s followed a familiar pattern of a far away place, strange creature, or “exotic” face in saturated color. We were armchair explorers living vicariously through the eyes of those famous photographers – Indiana Joneses with a camera.
In a break from the past, World Press Photo (WPP) released the short list of finalists in advance of naming the winners to their annual contest – arguably the most prestigious in all of photojournalism.1 The photos are remarkable for their composition, exposure and intimacy. But judging by the subject matter one might surmise that we’re living in a hellish dystopia, or that the jury believes pain and suffering is the most valid form of photojournalism.
It’s not surprising when camera companies hire photographers to pitch their products. But photographers have also been enlisted to sell other types of products; the result of Madison Avenue trying to romanticize the occupation, even though the reality often fails to meet the expectation. Nowadays photographers are more likely to spend the majority of their time sitting at a desk in post processing, or trying to collect on invoices that are 6 months past due.
Nevertheless, we’ve seen a number of companies in a variety of industries employ photographers in their ad campaigns in the past few years, spanning the gamut from the old living icons to the newest generation of light chasers.
This week, Google’s AlphaGo program beat the world’s best Go player, Ke Jie, in 2 straight games in a best of 5 series. Go is considered to be the world’s hardest board game, and some AI experts didn’t think that a machine would be able to best humans for another decade.
In the area of photography, companies like Google have already introduced various aspects of machine learning allowing users to search for photos by keyword without having ever entered keywords. Combined with other features like facial recognition give the user surprisingly accurate and useful results. It’s clear that AI has reached a powerful inflection point.
Ok, we get it. You shot it with your phone. You brought your DSLR, but you fell into a fountain and waterlogged all your gear. The repair estimate was nearly $2000, except you went to Thailand and got it fixed for $120. Good thing you had your iPhone. The quality was so good that your client, a barber named Steve who has never paid for photography, couldn’t tell the difference.
When your friend challenged you to take a night shot with your phone, you muttered, “bring it on” to yourself, then built an app because your company tells you to spend 10% of your time eating for free in the cafeteria. Then you composited 487 photos and used AI, AR, VR, ILC, and THC to get a photo that you could’ve taken with your DSLR, which you didn’t have because you tripped and broke your lens.
Two police officers in Georgia were fired after videos showing them brutally beating a motorist spread like a wildfire on social media. A criminal investigation has been initiated over their conduct, and photos of the two officers have emerged in the media.
The official police portraits from the Gwinnett County Police paint a radically different personae than the actions of Sgt. Michael Bongiovanni and Officer Robert McDonald caught on video. The smiling faces of civil servants in uniform posing in front of the American flag create a cognitive dissonance in light of the assault.
Everyone is a photographer, and that includes celebrities. But some celebrities take their photography more seriously than others, investing both significant time and money into developing their craft. Here’s a small sampling.
Donald Trump presents an interesting case for portrait photography and its use on magazine covers. Prior to his presidential run, he was known as an outspoken businessman and reality television star whose bombastic style brought in yuge ratings for “The Apprentice.”
Prior to the presidency, photographers and photo editors played to that persona with covers like these from 2011 and 2004 respectively.