Turns out retro photo filters and mobile photo sharing are big business. Just how big? Get this: Facebook has agreed to acquire 17-month-old Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. Instagram amassed 27 million users through iOS alone, but Facebook was likely motivated by the photo sharing app’s recent Android launch, which signed up 1 million new members in the first 24 hours alone. Just last week it was reported that Instagram had raised $50 million based on a $500 million valuation. Those investors scored a 2X return in less than a week.
One of the biggest stories in the news over the past month has been the controversy surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Poynter has published an article that examines how the media has used photography to portray Trayvon Martin, the victim, and George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who shot and killed him.
The dominant photo of Martin shows him 13 or 14 years old, wearing a red Hollister T-shirt. Other photos, none of them recent, depict a young Martin in a youth football uniform, holding a baby and posing with a snowboard. He is the picture of innocence.
The most common photo of Zimmerman is a 2005 police mugshot. He is 22 in the photo, which was taken after he was arrested for assaulting an officer. (The charges were dropped.) He looks unhappy, if not angry.
The contrast — the two photos are often published side by side — has led to criticism that news media have tilted the story in favor of the 17-year-old victim and against the 28-year-old man who shot him.
CNN published an opinion piece yesterday by photojournalist Nick Stern, who has some pretty harsh things to say about the spread of Instagram-style “fake images” in the news:
The app photographer hasn’t spent years learning his or her trade, imagining the scene, waiting for the light to fall just right, swapping lenses and switching angles. They haven’t spent hours in the dark room, leaning over trays of noxious chemicals until the early hours of the morning.
Nor did they have to spend a huge chunk of their income on the latest digital equipment ($5,999 of my hard-earned cash just went on ordering a new Nikon D4) to ensure they stay on top of their game.
The app photographer merely has to click a software button and 10 seconds later is rewarded with a masterpiece.
Stern also states that “Any news photographer worth his or her salt will tell you that the best camera is one that lets you take the photo unencumbered by the technicalities of the process.”
A French photographer who goes by the pseudonym Mani was recently in Homs, Syria documenting the urban warfare between government forces and rebel fighters. The video above, broadcast by Channel 4 News in Britain, shows the amazing footage Mani was able to capture by fearlessly putting himself in the midst of skirmishes.
While the world has become used to grainy shaky and gruesome footage and images from Homs fed through whatever Internet connection is available, Mani’s crystal clear and incredible footage gives perhaps the clearest and most frightening account of what Homs has been like for the past three weeks.
“The systems we used for photo storage a few years ago did not always delete images from content delivery networks in a reasonable period of time even though they were immediately removed from the site,” Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens told Ars via e-mail.
[...] “We have been working hard to move our photo storage to newer systems which do ensure photos are fully deleted within 45 days of the removal request being received,” Wolens said. “This process is nearly complete and there is only a very small percentage of user photos still on the old system awaiting migration, the URL you provided was stored on this legacy system. We expect this process to be completed within the next month or two, at which point we will verify the migration is complete and we will disable all the old content.”
In our tests, a Flickr photo was removed from the servers about 10 minutes after it was “deleted” on the service. In other news, Facebook has rolled out a new lightbox that displays photos at a whopping 960×720 (see screenshot above), and the Facebook iPhone app that we saw leaked screenshots of is apparently dead in the water.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle produced this interesting segment on photographer Yuri Arcurs and how he turned his microstock photography into a million-dollar photography empire. Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: on average, Arcurs sells one of his images every 8 seconds.
Canon’s president Tsuneji Uchida announced today that he will be stepping down to pave way for a younger management team as the company fell short of expectations for the second straight year. Canon’s stock price dropped 19% last year while Nikon’s grew 4%. The total number of Canon cameras sold dropped 4% last year, likely a result of both a shift away from consumer cameras and the shortages caused by Japan’s earthquake and Thailand’s flooding. However, DSLR sales are going strong:
Although Canon was affected by supply shortages caused by the quake and flooding, efforts to ramp up production and boost sales in response to robust demand resulted in significant increases in year-on-year sales volumes for such digital cameras as the competitively priced EOS Digital Rebel T3i/T2i/T3, along with the EOS 5D Mark II and the new EOS 60D advanced-amateur models.
Another big story in the camera world this past week was the passing of Sigma founder Michihiro Yamaki, who started the company in 1961 at the age of 27 by developing the first rear lens converter. He went on to lead the company for over 50 years, turning it into the largest third-party lens maker in the world. Yamaki passed away on January 18 at the age of 78 after a battle with liver cancer.
Wells Fargo Advisors is becoming a pretty reliable source for news regarding cameras before they’re actually announced. Just weeks after the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Nikon D4 were announced early by the service, the soon-to-be-announced Olympus OM-D camera is now semi-official as well. The wire confirms that Olympus will be reviving its old OM brand for SLR cameras through a new line of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and that the camera will sell for over ¥100000 (~$1300) in Japan. It also states that the new camera will resemble the Olympus OM-1 film SLR camera — originally launched in 1973 — and be equipped with high-speed autofocus (rumored to be the fastest of all mirrorless cameras) and image stabilization.
Update: To clear up any confusion: Wells Fargo Advisors doesn’t write the news, but simply publishes press releases received from a third party. In this case, the press release wasn’t published before it was supposed to — it’s simply a Japanese news source confirming that it had also heard about the new camera and upcoming announcement.
Hope you guys had a good holiday season. Welcome to 2012! As is our tradition, here’s our annual “state of the blog” post, in which we’ll briefly share on how this blog grew in the past year and where it is now. Read more…
The New York Times has sent an angry letter to the New York Police Department after video emerged showing photojournalist Robert Stolarik being pushed around and then blocked while trying to photograph officers arresting Occupy Wall Street protestors. The memo itself hasn’t be published, but NYT VP and assistant general counsel George Freeman is quoted as saying,
It seemed pretty clear from the video that the Times freelance photographer was being intentionally blocked by the police officer who was kind of bobbing and weaving to keep him from taking photographs
The department has acknowledged receiving the note from the NYT, but has not issued a formal response yet. This incident comes just weeks after Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered officers to avoid unreasonably interfering with media access during news coverage. Read more…