The Guardian featured a gripping article yesterday that asked photographers to look back at some of their most powerful photos, and how they could have helped instead of standing by and taking pictures. On the one hand we’ve all felt that surge of indignation as we wonder “why didn’t they help!?” On the other, only a photographer that has been there could understand what it’s like to be under that kind of pressure: Read more…
The Guardian published an article yesterday that features a number of prominent photographers (e.g. Jane Bown, Martin Parr, Terry O’Neil, Platon) sharing about missed photo opportunities and their “worst shots”. Platon has an interesting story regarding photographing Iranian president Ahmadinejad back in 2009 while snapping portraits of world leaders:
Ahmadinejad was the biggest surprise. On the first day, he made one of the most controversial speeches ever given at the UN, and a large proportion of the auditorium walked out. As he left the stage his supporters swarmed him, patting his back and shaking his hand. There were about 150 people pulling him in different directions. I elbowed my way into the middle of the scrum, grabbed both his hands, looked into his eyes and said, “Come with me, I am going to take your picture.” As I gently pulled his hands, miraculously he started to follow me to my studio.
I was expecting to get that dictatorial menace he had shown in his speech. But he suddenly realised that, not only was he about to sit for the most intimate portrait of him ever, the crowd was also watching. They were all cheering; he lost his composure for a second and started to laugh. What I got was him trying to regain his composure. It’s the most sinister leer I’ve caught on film.
It was a missed opportunity, in the sense that he was trying to gather himself and deal with the embarrassment of performing in front of all those people. On the other hand, it gave me something I would never have expected. No one thinks of Ahmadinejad as a man with a hint of a smile.
It seems like everyone has access to some kind of camera these days, but will the digital images captured survive long enough to become part of the historical record of our time for future generations? John Naughton at The Guardian writes,
[...] while digital technology has generally been very good for photography as a mass medium, it has also made the resulting imagery much more fragile and impermanent. Of the billions of photographs taken every year, the vast majority exist only as digital files on camera memory cards or on the hard drives of PCs and servers in the internet “cloud”. In theory – given the right back-up regimes and long-term organisational arrangements – this means that they could, theoretically, endure for a long time. In practice, given the vulnerability of storage technology (all hard disks fail, eventually), the pace at which computing kit becomes obsolete and storage formats change, and the fact that most people’s Facebook accounts die with them, the likelihood is that most of those billions of photographs will not long survive those who took them.
That’s a startling thought — while it’s true that digital photos can last for quite some time if you’re tech-savvy enough to preserve them well, how many people in the general population actually do so? For the ordinary photo-taker, making a print will likely last much longer than their haphazard — or non-existant — backups.
Anyone who says they aren’t frightened during war is either lying or a fool. It’s about finding a way of dealing with the fear – you have to be very calm. You’re not there to get your rocks off; you’re there because you feel your pictures can make a difference.
– Tom Stoddart
It’s amazing the kinds of dangerous situations photographers place themselves into to serve as the world’s eyes during wars and conflicts.
Here’s a short video by The Guardian looking at the rapid demise of photographic darkrooms and photographer Richard Nicholson’s project of capturing these spaces across London before they become just another chapter in photographic history.
British newspaper The Guardian has teamed up with Canon on a new app for the iPad that features the most recent 100 photographs from their award-winning Eyewitness series. In addition to simply viewing the photographs, they’re also including “Pro tips”, or short blurbs written by the photography team on the “technical and artistic merits” of each image.
If you love good photography and would like to have a steady stream of photography tips (as well as have an iPad), you can grab the app for free from the App Store.
No word on whether the pro tips will ever be available for those who don’t own iPads.