Tuesday, September 30, 2008

James Nachtwey, TED Award & a Potential New Form of Media Distribution

Unless you have never read a news magazine and have had your head buried in a hole in the sand for the past twenty years, you have been exposed to the work of arguably one of the world's most talented & driven photojournalists, James Nachtwey. Since the early 1980's Nachtwey has covered war, conflict, famine, disease, social issues and political insurrection in all of the hotspots around the globe. His images speak volumes and touch us in ways that words will never be able to. From Palestine, Bosnia, Serbia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Africa & the Middle East, his lens has focused on the human toll of political insanity. When there were stories that Nachtwey thought were important and he could find no interest within the major media outlets, he would fund these projects out of his own pocket in the interest of informing the world. Nachtwey has been the recipient of the Martin Luther King Award, Robert Capa Gold Medal (5X), the World Press Photo Award (2X), Magazine Photographer of the Year (7X) and numerous others.  Last year Nachtwey was also awarded 2007 TED Prize.

TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) was founded in 1984 as a conference bringing together some of the world's most fascinating thinkers & doers. Each year TED awards an outstanding individual from one of those three fields with a $100,000 cash award and the opportunity to have one wish to change the world granted. 

As part of his award, James Nachtwey requests the granting of this wish:

      "I'm working on a story that the world needs to know about. I wish for you to help me break it in a way that provides spectacular proof of the power of news photography in the digital age."

On October 3rd, Nachtwey will get his wish. In conjunction with TED, his story and project "which highlight a shocking and underreported global crisis" will be revealed to the world simultaneously as it is distributed throughout the world via the web, news media and projected on monuments and public buildings. As incredible as this all may sound at first glance one must keep in mind that Nachtwey has been and is an ultra-credible witness to and reporter of the major stories occurring around the globe for over 30 years.

In this age of media consolidation, news organizations moved under the corporate guidance of major media's entertainment divisions and the outright Noise that substitutes for news in major media outlets, it seems that those interested in getting out the real important stories of the day face increasingly insurmountable hurdles imposed by ratings driven television & radio news  broadcasts and the advertising driven news prints and periodicals. To that end, Nachtwey's approach to releasing his story (whatever it may be) may, in fact, override the traditional news & media outlets, forcing their hand in a way that has the potential to demand that this story grab the international headlines for at least a moment, regardless of sponsor, advertiser or ratings concerns. 

We'll see what it is all about on October 3rd and if the story is 1.) worthy of international news focus (Nachtwey's involvement seems to guarantee that it will) and 2.) can this new method of building hype for a breaking story and then simultaneously disseminating that story in a method such as this actually force the hand of the traditional media to cover it. It has already grabbed  my attention.

You can find out more about James Nachtwey, TED and the annual TED Prize and this year's winners by going here. The embeded badge at the top of this entry contains a link to the TED site that will redirect on Oct. 3rd to unveil the story. Stay tuned for more... and by all means,  watch the video below for Nachtwey's talk before the TED committee and a slideshow of some of his incredible imagery.
Thanks to Rob at APE for the heads-up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Treat Your Freelancer(s)

Adland has posted a new tutorial to their ongoing "Official Adland Tutorial Series" entitled:

I would have laughed out loud when I first read it if it wasn't so close to the truth as to be a little scary.  Maybe these things really are included in the orientation package given to new art buyers and creative on the first day on the new job at the new agency. They sure sound familiar...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday Night at the Maui Film Festival

All Photographs ©2008 Tony Novak-Clifford

Maui Film Festival, Wednesday,  September 24, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now We're Talkin'...


Location Scouting Uncovers Hidden Gems

When you're in search of cool places to make photographs, you almost never know what you might encounter. The image above came from a scout during a shoot at the Ulupalakua Winery. After wrapping the meat & potatoes of the assignment, we began to wander around lesser travelled areas of the property. This particular area was once the home of the late renown artist Reems "Mitch" Mitchell. Reems was the man responsible of the life-size, resin-cast sculptures of old sea captains and cowboys that you find scattered around the tourist areas of the island. Hermit-like, Reems lived within the walls of the old, dilapidated Ulupalakua sugar mill in a home he constructed himself from mostly salvaged timbers of an sunken ship off the coast of Lahaina. The house still stands... the day I made this photograph it had been unoccupied for quite a long time & the grounds had overgrown. The image has been sitting on storage drives for a couple of years until a came across it again this morning and decided to play with it a little bit. I rather like the result.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Photography As A Weapon

Given the current political climate here in the US, it would be quite easy for me to allow this blog to sink to the level of an endless rant. I will even admit to times when I have indeed composed lengthy screeds on honesty, politicians, ineffectual government, obfuscation, the moronic & truth challenged nature of the 24 hr. cable news cycles... In the end, I opted to take the high road and keep our focus here firmly on the business of photography.

So imagine my surprise to find couple of really interesting  discussions taking place in the photo blogosphere as it relates to politics, propoganda, photoshop and photography.

Jim M. Goldstein's blog has a discussion/interview with a photoshop manipulator named Naomi who created the Sarah Palin in a bikini with a rifle image that has been circulating around the web for the past few days. Check it out here.

Once you've read the interview and comments, head over the Chase Jarvis' blog for more. You'll find it here.

As one comment left by a poster identified as Christopher at the Jarvis blog says:

"The cliche, it's worth a thousand words... since no one gets more than a sound bite these days, is there a new role for photography as a weapon, or as a platform?

Another comment from "pluevdh" says:

"Great article! Definitely an interesting question left hanging as far as ethics and artisitc liberty go."

I found the discussion surrounding not only the composited image fascinating, but the concept of photography as weapon and/or platform, image & video sharing platforms like YouTube, Flickr, etc. and their reach and influence as "new" citizen media to be worth chewing on for a moment or two... What are the ethics involved? Is all fair in love, war & political propaganda?

Comments anyone?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blah Blah Blah...

A while back, the "team" and I were commissioned by Wolf-SubZero Appliances to photograph a kitchen designed and built here on the island for inclusion is the company's beautiful, glossy and well-designed magazine Great American Kitchens. I recently discovered that the story had, indeed, been published. Ever since that discovery, I have tried to contact the folks at SubZero for a couple of copies for my tearsheet archive. Several emails later, still no response from the company, but here's an image from the submitted photos for your listening and dancing pleasure... I'll keep trying.

Otherwise, it's been relatively quiet around here for the past few days, allowing time for the essential, if tedious, required tasks of book keeping, getting out new direct-mail & email promotional pieces, studio organization, etc...

There has been a small, steady trickle of new assignment work... photographing outlandish custom furniture pieces for master craftsman Ethan Fierro, a New-England prodigy & transplant to the island, designing incredible pieces of furniture and other very high quality wood-working designs.

There has also been a bunch of corporate portraits... physicians from one of the local medical groups and bankers for Bank of Hawaii. 

Tomorrow, I meet with a very adventurous group of architects from the Johnston+Cassel Design Group to finalize the needs for a shoot of another incredible interior design project recently completed. I've been working with these guys for about a year now on a few other projects. Their attention to detail and incredible craftsmanship have blown me away with every assignment and this one proves to be no exception... an spa-like bath and living quaters for a wheel-chair bound client. A couple of months ago we a did a pre-scout of the property before it was completed. Incredible is the only word I can find to describe it. It will be interesting to see the final completed details during out meeting/scout tomorrow.

Another assignment for  Hana Hou magazine came by email this morning... a brief story on outrigger sailing canoes. We'll be shooting that one very early in the morning on Friday.

And... word came down from above yesterday that we are still in the running for a big, luxury resort project on the Big Island, maybe to happen next month! All good news during this, what is usually the slowest part of the year in Hawaii... at least tourism-wise. 

I also have to make an unexpected but necessary trip back east to Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pa. the first week of November. I will fly in, take care of business and fly out all in a matter of only 4 days. Yesterday was spent making flight, car and room reservatins for the trip. Unfortunately, that kind of spoils plans for the usual escape to Bali I try to make in late November/early December each year. Looks like that's off unless a sudden windfall of really lucrative assignments happens between now & then. 

I was also contacted by a writer friend recently. She is interested in pitching stories about the road to Hana... that winding, incredibly beautiful 52 mile drive from Paia to the remote east side village of Hana, Maui. This story will have a different twist from the usual Hana driving story which has been done ad-nauseum in just about every travel related rag known to man. Sorry... I can't divulge the angle just yet. I have been scanning and printing images from my Hana files to aid the submission in the story pitch so let's just keep out fingers crossed...

Thursday, September 4, 2008


True to the word put out yesterday, Google has apparently modified the Terms of Service for users wishing to download and use their new browser software CHROME. The offensive section 11 of the ToS statements now reads:

"11. Content license from you

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.

12. Software updates ..."

You may now commence downloading and use...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google, Chrome, Rights Grabs & Other News

Many thanks to Rob at APE & Leslie at Burns Auto Parts for spreading the word about Google's new browser CHROME and the potentially devastating effect it could have on the control of your images should you choose to use the new browser to upload any intellectual property onto the web. From the CHROME Terms of Service in quotations below:

" 11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. 
By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services. 

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services. 

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions. 

You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license."

You can read more about the Terms of Service here and comments by an IP Attorney here, which includes an update and response from Google's Senior Product Counsel, Rebecca Ward. Ms. Ward now claims that Google is acting quickly to "...remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome." This sudden  change in the terms of service appears to have been prompted, at least in part, by an outcry of "foul" around the blogsphere since Chrome was first made available.

When in doubt... it is always best to read the users Terms of Service whenever using software that involves the internet. 

Many thanks to Caitlin at An Art Producer's Perspective for her tireless efforts in compiling an exhaustive list of artists representatives and links to their respective websites. If you're thinking about seeking representation, this is as good a place to start as any... and probably better than most. You can find the list here.

And finally... I will be returning to the radio and internet airwaves on a regular basis beginning Oct. 7th. "The Academy of Errors" program will be dusted off, spit-shined and resurrected once again every Tuesday morning from 6-10 am at Manao Radio. For radio listeners on the island of Maui, that's 91.5 FM. For everyone else, you can tune in via the internet for live streaming from anywhere in the world by going here. There are even free downloads on this page for iTunes & WinAmp software should your current computer be lacking in some sort of media player device.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Magazine Makeover

Several issues ago, Bon Appetit, one of my favorite food 'zines, unwrapped it's total redesign to readers & subscribers. Ostensibly, the redesign will be more appealing to what I can only assume the advertising and art departments believe to be a changing demographic in readership. Gone is the inviting and sumptuous food photography we had become accustomed to by talents like Brian Leatart & Gary Moss... also gone is the warm, homey feel of the magazine.

In it's place, Bon Appetit has gone for a more decidedly urban feel, using modern typefaces and edgier graphic design. Photo Editor Elizabeth Mathews has also brought in some of the new stars of portraiture and conceptual still-life. The current issue features cover and feature story food photographs by Craig Cutler.  Also lending a hand to the new look is the immediately recognizable work of portrait photographer Jill Greenberg who created quite a stir in the art world earlier this year with her portraits of children in distress (you can find excerpts of this work by clicking on Jill's name above and going to the portfolio "End Times").

While the chef's portraiture by Greenberg I feel is quite successful, I am less sure of the food images by Cutler. Normaly, I'm a big fan of Craig's work, but this issue's images are stark, unstyled food on white plates in a large filed of reflective black plexiglass on the cover and equally deconstructed images in the feature story that just don't work for me.

Overall, the food photography in recent issues since the redesign first debuted is in the new style and vein of the stripped down, food in your face, unstyled variety... and I think much of it is very well done. Thumbing thru the current issue this long holiday weekend, I was left scratching my head...