Just came across this article, definitely worth a read!
"A SWEDISH photographer has strongly defended himself against claims from a tech blogger that his gripping image, which won the prestigious 2013 World Press Photo of the Year, was a fake."
Here’s the claim posted by Sebastian Anthony of extremetech…
And here’s an article by news.com.au
"In the post-process toning and balancing of the uneven light in the alleyway, I developed the raw file with different density to use the natural light instead of dodging and burning. In effect to recreate what the eye sees and get a larger dynamic range.
"To put it simply, it’s the same file - developed over itself - the same thing you did with negatives when you scanned them."
It is not the first time the image has attracted controversy. When questions were asked earlier this year, the president of the jury which chose the winner, Santiago Lyon of the Associated Press, said:
“We are confident that the images conform to the accepted practices of the profession.”
The World Press Photo rule pertaining to photo manipulation states:
"The content of the image must not be altered. Only retouching which conforms to the currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed."
My thoughts: Maybe Paul Hansen could just show the RAW, unprocessed image and simply put all this to rest?
It’s definitely not a good look for photojournalists!
The controversy rages on….I expect we will hear a lot more about this!
I do like the two terms you used yo describe our work.
Not only depicting the “artful” aspect of his housemates, Cam also fulfill the technical side of photography. Ensuring every detail of the image is light properly, using portable flashes and lens that create no distortion. Compare to the “lyricism” typically found in my portraits, I explore the idea of surprise and geometry that fall around my subject.
Which lead to my conclusion of this assignment, I believe every photographer believes in their own ascetic in taking a picture. Some works in a way they separate their style of photography between their personal and commercial work. However, in my opinion I believe photographers with a journalistic or narrative approach often blend their style, to create a consistent way in telling stories. Therefore in a way photographers with a good style, tend to create an invisible watermark over their timeless photos.
Nick I think your personal work in Darwin, blends very well with the book covers you shoot for your clients. Anyway, all the best for your second trip back to Darwin, look forward in seeing your latest work soon!
Sample of my portraits, taken in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Italy.
Alrighty then I’ll start with Nick.
Interesting choice of image I must say!
I guess the image/series has achieved what they intended if it made you stop and ponder it for a few days. When I first saw the series in Pauline’s class I was a bit confused to be honest. Personally it doesn’t work for me, maybe because when I think of documentary photography I think of those strong, powerful war time images, they are the images that grab my attention . However once I read your post (a few times) I did come to understand it a little better.
I also agree with Sam that it “frames” you and really does make you think about it. So much so that I’ve gone on to google them and found this interview.
One of the responses that stands out to me is this from Adam Broomberg when asked what first inspired the concept for Fig. “We read a lot about the psychosis of collecting. Photographers are very strange beings. I think that a lot of photographers suffer from that strange state which makes you think that you’ve got to collect to survive.” and this again from Adam Broomberg “But I think that now is the most interesting time for documentary photography. Rather than feeling like it’s in its demise, now is a time of real re-birth, in that you need to be more intelligent and more informed. It’s not just about having big balls anymore; you know what I mean? It’s actually about thinking. “
Sam, these are the kind of images that grab my attention, great choice.
To me It’s a very ominous image, it’s more suggesting violence rather than graphically showing it.
Similar to the image I chose, it’s a behind the scenes look into what really goes on during war time. Scenes that everyday people would have never seen before. The solider is obviously exhausted and looks mentally and physically drained. I really do feel for him.
It’s also shocking to read more into Tim’s tragic and untimely death. I don’t know if any of you have heard of Sebastian Junger and James Brabazon’s documentary “Which Way is the Frontline from Here?” which celebrates Tim Hetherington’s Life. These two men were Tim’s close friends and collaborators.
When Sebastian was asked what he thought attracted Tim to conflict he said “War gives you meaning, an appreciation of life, and a chemical rush. That’s good. If anything else gave you all that, I’d be doing it every day. War is giving you these things that everyone seeks and presents it in a package. You never get those three things together in anything else. You can go skydiving but that’s not meaningful, it’s just an indulgence. War is everything.”
Oh and you can read a full interview with Sebastian and James here http://lightbox.time.com/2013/04/18/revisiting-memory-and-preserving-legacy-tim-hetherington-and-chris-hondros/, it certainly is an interesting read !
Mr Gibbs, Thank you for introducing me to Luc Delahaye’s work. Shooting on a large format panoramic camera would be a challenge in itself, shooting doco’s with one of them is insane! (insane in a good way) The images you posted are all really strong. The image of the dead solider is the complete opposite to what Sam and I have selected. This is one of those images that shows graphic violence and seeing it printed at 4x8 feet would be quite confronting.
We are looking down on the subject, an almost aerial type shot. The soldier is centrally framed and is perfectly exposed. This show just how much time and thought that has gone into producing this image. It’s not one of those quick fire snapshots, like mine or Sam’s chosen image. To me the most eerie part of this image is the soldiers face. His eyes are still slightly open like he is staring out of the photo and into the viewers eyes.
These are the pics Nick is talking about in his recent post. Not the greatest images ever, my idea was to shoot housemates on their couch outside their homes….pretty simple really, but i guess that’s the way I shoot :-p
Javier Manzano is the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winner for feature Photography. His image shows two rebel solider in Syria guarding their sniper’s nest. He was the first freelance photographer to win the Pulitzer in 17 years. Javier has said that he sprinted across two alleyways, accompanied by a fighter from the Free Syrian Army. They made their way through several abandoned houses and entered a dark room that had once been a warehouse. “The second I walked in, I immediately saw this amazing photo.”
The first time I saw this photo I was impressed. It looks like something straight out of the Call of Duty playstation games. Light penetrates through the bullet holes in the tin wall, dust fills the air, as the soldier lie in wait for their target to come into sight. It’s a behind the scenes look into what goes on in a war, the viewer almost feels as if they are there, alongside the rebels. The use of a wide angle lens brings us closer to the subject, showing the men fighting side by side, brothers in arms.
The bullets that have penetrated the thin tin walls, give just enough light to fill the dark scene. The man with the AK-47 is sitting, waiting patiently for his target to come into sight while the man behind is on guard, gun is hand, ready to take aim and fire. The fact that the rebels eyes are also well lit and in focus further adds to the power of the image. I find it to be a technically sound image, good use of available light and compositionally perfect. I believe we have become so used to seeing very graphic war time images and maybe this is why Javier Manzano’s image stands out to me.
Link to Javier’s Work
Some images from his series “Sniper Alley”
Jamie – thanks for picking up on my problematic use of the term ‘artful’ or the lack thereof that I claimed exists in the work of Broomberg and Chanarin. Though it was my intention to frame my argument with provocative language, I should most definitely have used the term ‘lyrical’ rather than ‘artful.’ Claiming the work of these photographers to be artless is obviously ridiculous. While I agree that a discussion of what is or isn’t art is, at least in the context of this blog, distracting, I do hope to clarify the distinction between ‘lyrical’ and ‘artful’ with this post.
I’ve seen enough work from the three of you guys to know that this is a very generalized statement, but I’m going to make it anyway: I think the style of Cameron’s portraiture is the most similar to Broomberg and Chanarin’s approach (I’m thinking particularly of the series that Cam did last year in portraiture of the people sitting on couches outside their houses). This is not to say that I think Cameron’s portraits are artless. Only that they lack the sort of ‘lyricism’ typically found in Sam or Jamie’s - or even my own - portraiture. Julian Stallabrass (one of the most prominent critics of Broomberg and Chanarin’s work) has commented on a trend he perceives in contemporary photography, and the parallels between this trend and Cameron’s portraits and striking.
Although, from memory, Cameron’s portraits featured a couple of subjects in each photo, the photos, like those described by Stallabrass, constituted part of a uniform series in which the subjects were placed centrally in the picture, facing the camera head-on and gazing into the lens. The subjects were also presented straightforwardly (without much apparent intervention by the photographer) and the pictorial elements controlled by the photographer were held as standard throughout the series. In other words, Cam’s portraits “stand opposed to the mannered portraiture of celebrated subjects in which extreme individuality of style and composition is congruent with the supposed uniqueness of the subject” (Stallabrass, 2007: 73). A look at some examples from the photographer whose work Stallabrass references in his article might help convey these points:
As these photographs from Rineke Dijkstra reflect, an objective manner of viewing here takes precedence over any lyricism and compositional effort on the part of the photographer. Though Stallabrass goes on to explain how this type of portraiture “illuminates questions about the representation of difference and identity in the globalized art word” as well as “the political view of the subject under neoliberalism” (Stallabrass, 2007: 72), I think the most interesting thing that Stallabrass discusses in his essay is the ability of this type of portraiture to at once allude to stereotypes yet undermine these through the individuality of the subject. The standardization or objectification of the subjects suggests that the stereotype is as much a part of the individual as the individual is the stereotype. If that makes sense?
Did you guys catch this – the story of ‘Facebook’ finally backing down on the posted beheading videos, only after condemnation from certain charities. The main reason the story caught my eye was the statement issued by ‘Facebook’ as part of their initial defence:
"While this video is shocking, our approach is designed to preserve people’s rights to describe, depict and comment on the world in which we live."
Fair enough? Is it necessary to show such graphic scenes to inform us of the current situation in the Mexican drug wars? We already know from reports that beheading has been common practice as a form of execution so do we need to see it? And if we don’t, based on the graphic nature, where does that leave still images such as Luc Delahaye’s that I showed previously of the injured girl and her dead dog? I believe the video clearly crosses the line, certainly in the forum of Facebook, where the video is more likely to become a source of titillation rather than tool of awareness – but even outside of that, I felt the video was very disturbing and overwhelming. I think we as photographers need to be very clear as to the purpose of our production, because if it is to increase awareness, which is personally the path I hope my own work will take, then we need to be conscious of not overwhelming the viewer to the point of frozen response. People should feel informed and hopefully empowered if they do indeed wish to act on the issues presented before them.
Granted, this piece of media has not been shot or publicised by photojournalists or documentary makers but is it being judged any differently in the public forum?
I hear what you say Jamie, despite the power that photography had always embraced; I understand a great photograph can capture celebrating moments that last forever. Yet, if one has to stare at an image of their love once dying that have gone viral in media, it must be a dreadful memory that will traumatize the person’s life eternally.
Robert Capa the founder of Magnum Photo Agency once said “If your picture is not good enough, your not close enough.” In which his motto had took his own life. While Micha Bar Am, also a member of Magnum claimed, “If you’re too close to events, you lose perspective.” In regarding to Luc Delahaye’s photographs, the subject sit neither too far or too close but actually almost a perfect composition according to the environment’s geometry. Therefore I feel every image tells a story on it’s own.
Since we have referred to many ex or current Magnum photographers, I thought this might be an interesting read. Recently on “Vice Love Magnum”, Ian Berry had been interviewed about his 50 years of experience being part of the agency.
I came across this Doco series titled, “The New African Photography” which profiles 6 African Photographers who are determined to take back control of how their continent is portrayed. So many people picture Africa as a War torn continent and images come to mind of bloodshed and violence. They want to showcase how a new generation of African Photographers are keen to celebrate what is unique about the region. “The goal is to ultimately replace the images of famine and war that often come to mind and with images that redefine what Africa is becoming today.”
Anyway I just thought it might be an interesting series to watch!
Stay Tuned more to come….
Alrighteee then – pizza analogies and dick sizes aside, some interesting points have surfaced. Firstly Nick, and I would be interested to know if you were just trying to stir some reaction here – How are you attempting to justify, having just written a lengthy piece regarding the work of Broomberg and Chanarin that, ‘Indeed, there is nothing artful about this photography.’ Please don’t make me quote Tolstoy. By the very nature of your discussion, I can only imagine it was intentional or I have misinterpreted – the latter being highly likely I grant you, but whether ‘good art’ or ‘bad,’ the work has stimulated/provoked discussion and without progressing into a lengthy diatribe questioning, ‘what is art?’ one would have to surmise that their work is unfortunately to myself anyway, artful. Secondly – I’m not sure the taking of photographs in an attempt to exert power, as a transformative artist is an overtly masculine exercise. I think this desire is shared equally between the sexes in our field and other visual arts.
Great to see the work of Tim Hetherington pitched alongside Broomberg and Chanarin in the context of conflict coverage – both of which I believe carry ‘weighty’ tones but as you pointed out Sam – in very different ways. I think both warrant merit in their ability to bring attention to the subject of war and if that is achieved, then mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned, regardless of method. Hetherington’s method is more traditional of course in terms of what the majority can view, process and align their thoughts – spoon-fed if you will – and then there is quite clearly the philosophical/metaphorical approach. Would be interesting to hear from war veterans if they thought any such ‘art’ should be created from war?
I wondered if you guys knew the work of Luc Delahaye – once celebrated photojournalist, now celebrated artist, and yet with similar image content applied to both fields – regarding his approach to situational ethics, to use Nick’s terminology, I found this statement in a bio for the prix pictet award, ‘ His war photography was characterised by its raw, direct recording of news and often combined a perilous closeness to events with an intellectual detachment in questioning his own presence.’ How convenient, I’m not sure there is much anyone can say to the argument of intellectual detachment? - See works below:
Delahaye is a three times winner of world press photo, twice winner of the Robert cappa gold medal, worked for Magnum for 11 years and then in 2004, declared himself an artist, stating in an interview with Artnet magazine, “Photojournalism is neither photography or journalism. It has its function but it’s not where I see myself: the press is for me just a means for photographing, for material – not for telling the truth.” Alarming I know, but relax my fellow truth searchers, he simply wanted to show the scenes surrounding him everyday on assignment and yet which he knew would never get coverage due to the parameters set out by his various employers in the media. Interesting point he makes, especially in light of Nick’s comments regarding the framing of chaos, which is not the tool of photographer’s alone. He has since won the Deutsche Börse Prize (2005) and the 2012 Prix Pictet award.
The work that Delahaye began to show as art, it should be noted, was shot using a large format panoramic camera and presented in galleries at a scale of 4 x 8 feet. Normally this scale of work would have me bleeting about less than average work being revered simply because the ‘artist’ had diverted the viewers attention from a relatively ordinary picture by making it large and hanging it on a gallery wall. But in this case, I think the images are genuinely stunning. The nature of the content led ‘The Guardian’ newspaper to declare, ‘Luc Delahaye turns war photography into an uncomfortable art,’ and it is this viewpoint which I wish to focus on, particularly in reference to his image, simply titled, ‘Taliban, 2001.’ – See below:
This image was for sale for $15,000 and purchased by two American museums leaving ‘New York Times’ photographer Chester Higgens Jr, to wonder, ‘would they pay $15, 000 for the image of a dead American soldier?’ I think they probably would on the same premise of it being a highly emotive and thought provoking image, but would they have been able to exhibit a picture of a dead American soldier without major domestic backlash, even with family consent? I know I said I wasn’t going to discuss, ‘what is art?’ But what I find most interesting about this scenario is that very similar images appear repeatedly in all formats of media on a daily basis, which are no longer given a second thought by the masses and yet when placed into another context such as that of a gallery wall hanging at 4 x 8 foot, with a price tag of $15,000, we suddenly have a very different reaction. To me, this image has a painterly quality – the body looks to have been arranged, almost like it would be for a figure drawing class and the tones add to the warmth and serenity of the scene. Delahaye said, “that he was dead a few minutes,” and this captured moment, so incongruous with what we might associate with a battlefield death allows the viewer to potentially contemplate the peacefulness that has befallen this man, only moments after an altogether more chaotic existence. Religious connotations a plenty I’m sure but more primal than that I think is the intimacy with the subject which would be far more powerful whilst interacting with the image in a gallery space on such a life-like scale. The following is an interesting exert from an article on the digital journalist website in which the author describes observing visitors to the image in situ:
‘I observe as a middle-aged woman accompanied by a teen boy walks past, repelled by her first glance at the photo, ushers the child away to another photo, then returns alone and sits on a bench a few feet in front of the image. She looks intently, then gets up for a closer look, nose almost touching the glass.’
As with his more ‘landscape’ orientated imagery, I am extremely appreciative of Delahaye’s need to depict a more tangible sense of place when showing instances and locations of extreme violence and chaos, as I find such images far more emotive and thought provoking than those with which I have grown accustomed and more resilient despite their more graphic nature.
Re- Nick, just to be clear I have nothing against their work, your “Fish Tank” analysis is quite remarkable, the way you described it. The image is so ordinary and dull that makes it so powerful at the same time. After a long stare and not able to work out what it means, I feel this image have “framed” me, leaving me no-where to escape but think about it. Which I believe that concludes it’s “power”. Personally I believe in candid approach in-terms of photojournalism, the luck in co-operation with expression and action makes a story telling image. In which I compared Broomberg and Chanarin film “The day no body dies” and the world press award photograph of the US soldier resting in a bunker in the korengal valley, taken by Tim Hetherington.
In 2008, Broomberg and Chanarin made a 23 min film documenting the transportation of their photographic paper from London to Helmand province in Afghanistan. Through it’s journey, you witness soldiers running across the battlefield to protect the delivery, while being shelled by the gun firing sounds. Furthermore the film had provoked the sense of frustration living in the danger zone. Although the piece gives audience a narrative overtime, however it doesn’t consist the instance impact compare to Tim Hetherington’s photograph. Despite in a scene, where a group of soldiers were watching news in their bunker, their lack of interaction with each other have left the room echoed with the sound of the news reporter. This demonstrates a strong sense of loneliness living within the battlefield. However, the fact that the roll of photographic paper 50 meters long and 76.2 cm wide was contained in the box the entire time, without actual footage of it being exposed, it raises the question whether the artwork was created on site? While looking at Hetherington’s image, we are able to visualize a story without the need of written words.
In a different approach, Tim Hetherington’s freezing moment provided an instant impact on the audience, although a picture of a beat soldier gazing at a camera describes a piece of salami of an entire pizza. However this iconic moment of a soldier resting, justified the lives of 1500 British veterans served at the front-line of Afghanistan during 2007. Despite the photo was captured out of focus, under low light condition with strong vignette. Instantly we assume the tension of the photographer being in hurry. Looking closely the ring on the soldier’s right hand, tells the story of a family man at war. At last the horrific look in the soldier’s eyes, evokes the sense of lost and exhaustion that exist within a battlefield.
Overall, I find the two approaches in documenting the Afghanistan war very distinctive. Rather than recording the death and violence at war, Broomberg and Chanarin illustrates the sense of emptiness in warzones through a conceptual way. While Tim Hetherington seek out to photograph battlefields not following what Broomberg and Chanarin claimed “the inverse of a traditional reportage image”.
2007, Tim Hetherington, World Press Photo of the Year
A soldier of Second Platoon, Battle Company of the Second Battalion of the US 503rd Infantry Regiment sinks onto an embankment in the Restrepo bunker at the end of the day. The Korengal Valley was the epicenter of the US fight against militant Islam in Afghanistan and the scene of some of the deadliest combat in the region.