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BEST OF THE REST: September 26

Here is a collection of interesting articles recently published by photography websites that aren’t Inside Imaging. NY Times brings Hard Truths to Melbourne…The toll for conflict photographers…Digital artist a ‘thief, poser, coward, and liar’

First, a confession about the wonderful world of digital publishing and online journalism. We, practically all online journalists, ‘copy taste’ other news websites or blogs for stories to source, appropriate, draw ideas from or republish – why some are even known to plagiarise!
While Inside Imaging strives to find a fresh angle, a unique perspective, or add new elements to a story, sometimes articles by other websites are outside our editorial scope, or not quite what we’re chasing.

So here’s a round-up of this week’s stories we considered, but then decided ‘yeah nah’ for various reasons.

NY Times brings Hard Truths to Melbourne
New York Times
New York Times Australian bureau chief Damien Cave penned an essay about challenges faced by media, to promote an exhibition of award-winning documentary photos showing at the University of Melbourne.

Hard Truths is showing until October 11, with a collection of New York Times images showing the struggle, survival, and upheaval of people across the world. The photos were capture in places like remote Australia, Manila, Mosul, Caracas, and rural Cuba.

Hungry and exhausted civilians line up for food and water in Mosul, northern Iraq. Photo:Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

‘They (the photos) capture people demanding dignity in every circumstance, and, having first appeared in The New York Times, their intent is to make you stop, look and think,‘ Damien Cave writes. ‘Now, for the first time in Australia, you can see them not on your phone or computer, but in an exhibit, called Hard Truths.
…It’s an effort to display our colleagues’ award-winning work in a fresh new way, in person and in large format. The experience is meant to be provocative — to raise questions about how the media represents the world and how the world responds to its ills, from war to poverty and climate change.

Cave spoke at two events at Melbourne Uni in conjunction with the exhibition. First, a Q&A with award-winning Australian photographer, Adam Ferguson; followed by a panel discussion with human rights lawyer, Julian Burnside, and academics speciliasing in race and identity.

Cave’s NY Times letter is behind a free-to-access ‘paywall’ – it’s free to read provided you provide an e-mail address. Hard Truths is curated by David Furst, NY Times international picture editor.

The toll for conflict photographers
The Daily Beast
Speaking of photojournalists, The Daily Beast interviewed neuropsychiatrist Anthony Feinstein about his book Shooting War, which tells the story of well-known conflict photos and profiles the 18 photographers who captured them. With Feinstein an expert mental health professional, his book focuses on how witnessing and documenting traumatic event has affected photojournalists.

The profiles includes the likes of legendary photographers Tim Page, Sir Don McCullin, Sebastiao Salgado, Ron Haviv, Santiago Lyon, Ashley Gilbertson, and others.

Each photographer works in an area where immense human suffering takes place, with a job to document harrowing events as they unfold or the aftermath. The end result is a body of images that’s of significant value to society, and when it’s done and dusted the photographer moves on to the next project – perhaps another conflict, revolution, civil uprising, natural disaster, or refugee migration.

There are countless stories about soldiers and veterans’ long road to recovery in relation to mental health after experiencing war. Many never find peace. Books and movies have been dedicated to how conflict re-shapes the human psyche, and assimilation back to ‘normal’ life becomes an immense challenge.

But rarely is the story told from the perspective of a photographer. How does bearing witness to these tragedies affect their mental health, and their ability to live a normal life?

Here’s a quote from Feinstein in The Daily Beast interview:
‘I first became interested in war journalism in 1999, when I was referred a patient who was a war journalist and who had developed a very significant stress response syndrome that made it impossible for her to continue working. My patient did very well with psychotherapy, and after she had recovered, I learned, to my surprise, that her large news organization had not made any counseling available to her—notwithstanding the fact that she had spent more than a decade covering some of the world’s most dangerous places. I am not just a clinician, but also a behavioral science researcher, and in response to my patient’s revelation, I did a detailed literature search to see what had been written on the subject of war journalism and emotional health. To my surprise I found not a single article devoted to the topic, even though there is a very large amount of trauma literature focusing on veterans, fire fighters, victims of assault and rape, and so on.’

Digital artist a ‘thief, poser, coward, and liar’
Jason Weingert Photography
Here’s a juicy one. It would have driven many clicks, and was quite tempting to publish given the reminiscence to a recent Australian photographer caught winning photo contests with digital art comprised of third-party clip art.

However, we let it slip passed due to it being a US-based spat and better-suited for the Petapixel crowd.

US storm photographer, Jason Weingert, has accused digital artist, Brent Shavnore, of stealing at least three of his images.

On the left is Jason Weingert’s original image, and on the right is the Brent Shavnore’s digital art.

Shavnore creates ‘digital art’ composites of storm fronts passing through picturesque landscapes. The photos are obviously not real, however many people believe are and the digital composite artist has amassed 131,000 Instagram followers, and sells prints of his artwork. He claims to buy all elements from stock photo websites,Adobe Stock and Shutterstock, and this was how he sourced Weingert’s storm photos.

Failing to find his photos on either website after searching ‘thunderstorm’, Weingert demanded to see receipts or proof of purchase. Shavnore then stopped responding to his e-mails. He did clarify to Petapixel that Weingert’s images were, in fact, sourced from a free stock website where image downloads are not tracked.

‘My favorite Easter Egg in this whole ordeal was finding that someone used the Shavnore rendition of my image with the storm Photoshopped upside down, and somehow The Weather Channel used it on air as a legitimate image! What?! How?That’s a whole ‘nother blog post there though.

‘I emailed an invoice to Mr. Shavnore for the amount of $9,222.50 (including TX sales tax) for unauthorised commercial use of three of my images, used no less than 11 times. He has yet to respond to that email or pay the invoice (imagine the surprised look on my face). I am currently exploring legal action against Brent Shavnore for using my images to build a sizeable social media following as well as profiting from posting the images for sale online.’

While we ain’t experts on copyright in Australia, let alone in the USA, if matters go to court it seems Shavnore will easily argue his alleged copyright infringement is Fair Use, as the artworks are transformative from the original. If Richard Prince can get away with it by placing a guitar over the hands of an image of a Rastafarian, well, the legal precedent is clearly on Shavnore’s side.

Patrick Cariou Richard Prince
Patrick’s photo on the left; Prince’s ‘artwork’, which was deemed fair use, on the right.

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