Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque recently got a call that summoned him for a top secret assignment: travel on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan with President Obama. After getting back, Lamarque wrote up an interesting behind-the-scenes blog post documenting his experience:
We are driven to the remote hangar where Air Force One sits out front, completely blacked out. We board the plane in darkness and inside the cabin, the shades are all down. We will not do the customary photo of Obama boarding the plane as we do on every other scheduled departure. Instead, at some point, we feel the plane begin to move and we know President Obama is on board and we are headed to Afghanistan.
[...] Communication, a photographers primary concern after making pictures, is patchy at Karzai’s presidential palace, our first stop. The ability to get pictures out to our clients quickly can produce stress in places such as Kabul. Though all four photographers on this trip (Reuters, AP, AFP, New York Times) carry various data card devices, we know they may prove useless. We also carry satellite phones, but we all know that there will never actually be time to set them up and use them. At the palace, we do get a faint and slow cellular data signal, and after checking that the embargo on Obama’s arrival has been lifted, we are all able to transmit the first pictures of Obama arriving in Afghanistan. The veil of secrecy is gone.
Olympus fired CEO and President Michael Woodford today, causing the company’s stock price to take a 17% dive. The 51-year-old Briton was accused by the board of ignoring the management culture that the firm has had in place for 92 years. Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa (who replaces Woodford) says,
We hoped that he could do things that would be difficult for a Japanese executive to do, but he was not able to understand that we needed to reflect the management style we have built up since the company was established 92 years ago, as well as Japanese culture.
The “difficult things” included ambitious cost-cutting plans, which proved to be successful in the company’s European division. Woodford had a habit of ignoring the management structure of the company by giving direct orders to employees rather than the leadership of the different units. While Olympus is known in the consumer electronics industry for its digital cameras, it’s medical equipment that keeps the company afloat — the Olympus camera division lost 15 billion yen (~$195 million) in the year to March 2011.
Dimitri Medvedev, the president of Russia, is a big photography enthusiast and a fan of Leica cameras, though from the video above — in which Medvedev uses a $20,000+ Leica S2 medium format DSLR — it seems someone needs to give him a few pointers on holding and using the camera.
Earlier this year we shared a video in which Medvedev talks in-depth about his involvement in photography. You can find some of Medvedev’s work here.
Last Thursday, three Georgian photographers including Irakli Gedenidze, the personal photographer of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, were arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia by taking photos of secret documents. On Saturday, Georgian TV aired a clip of Gedenidze confessing to selling the information to someone he thought was a Russian agent, but claimed to be the victim of blackmail. The Moscow Times suggests that this may simply be an attempt by Georgia to “chill the media”.
The personal photographers of world leaders are sometimes given an extraordinary amount of access — President Obama’s photographer Pete Souza attends and photographs Obama’s meetings, and was present in the Situation Room while the Osama bin Laden raid was unfolding, allowing him to capture his now-iconic photograph.
The White House announced last month that it would be ending the long-running practice of reenacting Presidential speeches for photographs, but stated that they were still working out how the new system would work. Last week it reached an agreement with the White House Correspondents’ Association — rather than reenacting photos for a larger group of photographers, a single photojournalist will be given permission to shoot future speeches as they happen:
[...] news photographers will now be permitted to designate a single representative to act as a “pool” for the entire press corps. The photos taken by the pool representative will be made available to all news organizations. Reporters use a similar pool system for presidential events in which space is limited. [#]
“Hey, no pressure, but the world’s media is depending on your photos!”
The White House is ending its long-running practice of reenacting speeches for still photographs after the controversy was rekindled last week by President Obama’s Osama bin Laden speech.
After Obama’s live, late-evening address from the East Room of the White House on May 1, five photographers were ushered in to shoot pictures as the president stood at the podium and re-read a few lines of his speech – a practice that news organizations have protested for years.
Even though The Associated Press and other news outlets said in captions to the photos that they were taken after the president delivered his address, many people who saw them may have assumed they depicted the speech itself. That raised questions of whether news organizations were staging an event. [#]
Today a spokesperson for the President stated, “We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea,” and that the administration is working on a new method for photojournalists to make photographs of actual speeches.
Did you know that Russian President Dimitri Medvedev is an avid photo enthusiast? In this video he shares some thoughts on photography, and talks about his own involvement in the art. If you’re wondering what he shoots with, the answer is a Leica M9, as well as Canon and Nikon cameras.
Here’s a interesting little teaser video for “The President’s Photographer: Fifty Years Inside the Oval Office“, a PBS documentary that premiered on November 24th, 2010. It takes you behind the scenes with Pete Souza, the official White House photographer who follows President Obama around everywhere he goes, capturing tens of thousands of photographs every month.
Nikon’s President Makoto Kimura did an interview with Reuters a couple days ago in which he stated that Nikon is trying to develop a camera that creates a new camera market.
A lot of companies make bold claims about their upcoming products “changing photography forever”, but the products usually don’t deliver much beyond increased megapixels, improvements in quality, and flashier specs. Sony actually succeeded in changing the landscape of DSLRs recently with their new pellicle mirror cameras.
In addition to Nikon, Pentax is also rumored to be developing a camera that is unlike any existing camera on the market.
Here’s the specific quote made by Kimura,
We want to propose another type of photography. I don’t think there is any need to limit it to two categories. We want to create a new market.
Let’s put on our thinking caps. What do you think these companies might have up their sleeves? Can you think of anything they might be building that might actually change the digital camera industry?
Nikon President Makoto Kimura says that in order to keep its “top position” in Japan’s DSLR market, it needs to create an “entirely new domain” that may go well beyond its plans for a mirrorless, EVIL camera.
In an interview with Pen News Weekly, Kimura said:
“Nowadays digital cameras take movies, performance of cameraphones is rapidly advancing and demand for simple movie cameras for uploading video on the Internet is on the rise. Redefinition of photography may become necessary.”
Much of this comes at the heels of Canon’s revelation of their future plans at the Shanghai World Expo, with its Wonder Camera presentation. With the introduction of cameras like the iPhone 4 and other smartphones with HD video modes, both companies suggest that there is a lot of pressure to keep abreast of the improving technology in typically lower-end camera competition from camera phones, as well as in higher end DSLRs with video capabilities. It seems that Kimura hopes to reassert Nikon’s product by marketing EVIL cameras to consumers primarily for higher quality video and video sharing, perhaps through a built-in internet mode.
However, it sounds like Nikon may have more up its sleeve than simply adding better video and internet. Kimura also said:
“It will be a camera that may take photos of the world that the traditional SLR cannot reach.”