The mandate for Documerica was intriguingly broad — “photographically document subjects of environmental concern” — and photographers responded with striking images covering everything from pot-smoking form to toxic smog.
The western world was sent into a brief paranoid frenzy when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked government information about the surveillance of the National Security Agency (NSA). I say brief, because it seems to have been forgotten by a large number of people; it seemed like it was just more news. The revelations, and more that followed, showed how the NSA record phone calls and data and more controversially; that they use information from emails and social networking sites.
What do a loaded gun, a stun gun disguised as a pack of cigarettes and an inert grenade all have in common? Pictures of all of them are to be found on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new Instagram account, where the government agency is doing its best to show the public the kinds of dangerous things its employees are confiscating on a daily basis. Read more…
Yesterday was the 24th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square — an event that has been immortalized in history by AP photographer Jeff Widener’s famous “Tank Man” photo we shared earlier today. What you may not know is that, in China, the government still does everything it can to keep the event shrouded in mystery, pretending it never happened.
The Internet, however, is having none of it, as memes depicting the tank man photo in ways that might avoid censorship nets spring up all over the place. One of the most viral is the photo you see above. Read more…
Urban exploration photography has gotten quite a bit of publicity in recent years, with more and more photographers taking their cameras to off-limits and/or abandoned parts of their city in order to see and capture what most people never get a chance to. While it may be a fun pastime of practitioners and one that leads to beautiful images, not everyone is a fan.
Earlier this week, Iran generated quite a bit of media attention after claiming that it had successfully sent a monkey to space and safely brought it back down to Earth. The tiny monkey was reportedly sent into sub-orbital space 75 miles above ground.
To prove its accomplishment, Iran distributed the above photograph of the monkey strapped into its little spaceship chair.
Judy L. Thomas over at the Wichita Eagle has a piece on why some photographers should spend a little extra time and money to register photos with the US Copyright Office, even though photographers own the copyright to photos the moment they’re created:
“I usually equate copyright registration to an approximate $35 insurance policy,” said [attorney] Tammy Browning-Smith [...] “Should something go wrong and someone takes your work, it allows you to be able to collect attorney’s fees, enhanced damages and the like.”
Registering a copyright is “painless and quick,” Browning-Smith said. To do it, go to the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov and fill out the form. It costs $35 for online registration of a basic claim and $65 to register a group of photographs. It takes up to 2½ months to get an application processed, according to the agency’s website [...]
“If you register before any kind of infringement, you get access to the federal courts, but you also get access to statutory damages,” [law professor Andrew] Torrance said. “So instead of having to prove you’ve suffered actual damages, like for example the cost of the photographer, with statutory damages you just need to convince the court that you’re on the high end of the damages and you can get a tremendous amount of money.”
Personal pictures become fodder for legal fights in digital age [The Wichita Eagle]
Thanks for sending in the tip, Chris!
You probably know of the iconic photograph titled Migrant Mother, but do you know the government photo project that led to its creation? Between 1935 and 1943, the US Government launched the largest photo project in the history of the country through its Resettlement Administration (RA) — later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The project enlisted the likes of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange to help educate citizens in the East about what was going on in the West, and the giant PR campaign ended up producing over 170,000 photos and one of the most important photo collections in the US. The lecture above by Yale student Lauren Tilton offers a brief history lesson on this project.
Ever wonder how the US government managed to capture spy photos with satellites during the Cold War without the help of digital cameras, computers, or wireless transmission? The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the various techniques that were used:
From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles (100 kilometers) of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.
You can check out all the details of the super secret photography program in this now-declassified report.
Last week we wrote about an obscure law in Washington DC that can land a person in jail for doing photography for “more than 5 minutes at location”. The Washington Post published a clarification stating that the law is targeted at people who make a living taking a portrait for strangers on city sidewalks. However, the National Press Photographers Association isn’t satisfied with the explanation, and has written a letter to the city requesting that the “vague” law be repealed:
[...] these three vague and incrementally overly broad sections taken together could be interpreted to mean that any photographer taking a photograph of anything, be it a building, person or inanimate object for longer than five (5) minutes would be in violation of the regulations and subject to fine or arrest [...] We contend that this licensing scheme, based upon regulations that are facially inconsistent with the protections provided under the First Amendment, is unconstitutional.
[...] these facially defective regulations will only further contribute to the erroneous belief by law enforcement that public photography may be arbitrarily limited or curtailed.
The NPPA also writes that they’re concerned that the law could be used against photographers covering events such as “Occupy Wall Street”.