Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.”

--Louise Nevelson

Photograph of artist, Louise Nevelson by Richard Avedon

Portrait of artist, Louise Nevelson by Cecil Beaton

Friday, February 24, 2012

French Photojournalist, Remi Ochlik

Here is the CNN story (by way of photographs and captions) on the recent death of Remi Ochlik who was killed while covering the Syrian conflict in Homs. Click here: Remi Ochlik

Click here to see more of his work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Contrast affects perception ...

Here is an interesting illusion as created by increasing and decreasing contrast. "The Illusion of Sex" (2009 Richard Russell for Best Illusion of the Year Contest; 3rd Place) illustrates, by use of photographs, our perception of what appears female and what appears male. The increase in contrast makes the same image of the same person's face appear more feminine. According to Scientific American Mind magazine, this would also explain "... why females in many cultures darken their eyes and mouths with cosmetics: a made-up face looks more feminine than a fresh face."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Someone near and dear to me has a birthday this month. Two of his passions are sailing and photography, so I figured this post featuring a daguerreotype case with embossed sailboats would be a perfect commemoration.

The case has the initials E. White embossed in the sails. Edward White was a daguerreotype photographer and one of the major United States case and plate manufacturers in the years between 1841 and 1850. He was also known as one of the major daguerreotype equipment dealers. His portrait studio, known as the United States Daguerreian Gallery, was located at 175 Broadway in New York City. Inside this case, is a 1/6th daguerreotype plate of a man holding an open book. And, since my 'near and dear' also happens to be an avid reader, this post is even more apropos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Fashions

Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

Deborah Turbeville

Guy Bourdin

Ellen von Unwerth (of Eva Mendez)

Ellen von Unwerth (for Russian Vogue)

Helmet Newton

Miles Aldridge

Nick Knight

Steven Meisel (Tribute to Alexander McQueen for Vogue 2011)

Richard Avedon (Versace ad featuring Kelly LeBrock, circa 1980s)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston 1963-2012

Getty Images / Photographer Unknown

David LaChapelle

Photographer Unknown (Whitney at the Superbowl singing National Anthem)

Photographer Unknown

AP Photo / Dan Steinberg

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When "photographer unknown" is indicated, but the photographer is known, please let me know and I will add photo credit.

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 World Press Photo Winner

2012 World Press Photo of the Year was won by Samuel Aranda for his photograph of a woman hugging a wounded relative inside a mosque turned hospital in Yemen. Aranda was shooting for the New York Times and it took him approximately one month to secretly and safely enter Yemen. This photograph was one of the first photographs he filed.

To read more about Samuel Aranda and his time in Yemen, and to see the other World Press Photo winners, click on the following link: World Press Photo Winners.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ken Pivak

My friend, Ken Pivak, has been working on a new series he calls, "Housewives". He works in collaboration with his models in order to come up with images that catapult our notions of a traditional housewife into either fantasy or an interpretation of what it might be to relish the escape, endure the drudgery, or take glory in the privilege. This concept makes me wonder, why has no one ever done this before?! Brilliant!

Before I display the images from the "Housewives" series, I am showcasing some photographs from a series Ken did as an editorial for San Francisco Chronicle about couture designers in San Francisco, all shot in famous restaurants. This series is what first grabbed my attention to his work.

Housewives Series:

Ken is also the founder of Digital 1 to 1.
Article on Digital 1 to 1, including Ken's bio click here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This is Lady Gaga’s Photo Release Form

This is Lady Gaga’s Photo Release Form

Photographers unite!

Imagine photographing a supermodel and instead of asking her to sign a release, you instead sign over your copyright to her, thus giving her all rights to do whatever she likes with your photograph. Celebrities like Madonna have freely allowed press photographers to photograph her during her concerts and the photograph remains the property of the photographer. Lady Gaga wants to own the imagery captured by press photographers at her concerts.

Copyright is established once the shutter is clicked. That copyright is held by the photographer. Sure, you can't use someone's likeness in advertising without a release, but documenting celebrities and if used in an editorial, non-slanderous fashion, but, most importantly, in a way that is non-revenue generating (i.e., a fan website or blog) seems tolerated and maybe even endorsed by many celebrities. They don't sign a model release. But, Lady Gaga isn't saying she didn't sign a model release; she is saying she wants to own outright your photographs of her.

When is "substantially similar" a matter of copyright infringement?

There are two articles worth reading on this copyright case: DPreview.com's, "Similar, but not copied, image found to breach copyright" and the one written (with loads of typos!) by Holger Mette, "UK Copyright Case, Different, but Same-Same". Mette's article articulates some facts that are not mentioned in the DPreview article.

For instance, Mette tells us that the original Justin Fielder photograph (top photograph) was used without permission by a tea company. When Fielder approached the company about unauthorized use and then subsequently filed suit, the company withdrew the image from production and then proceeded to hire Nick Houghton to create a "similar" image (bottom photograph).

It was a deliberate act of taking the very specific elements from Fielder's photograph and creating a montage of elements to reproduce an image that was to intentionally look similar -- this alone would seem to warrant a case of copyright infringement. (But, the Court's decision to rule that it was a case of copyright infringement was based on other criteria.)

Had someone stood at the same spot as Fielder and captured all the elements in the shot -- the red bus, Big Ben in the background, a white sky, and then manipulated the image in Photoshop to render the monochromatic background, and had they not seen Fielder's shot, it is my understanding that they would not be guilty of copyright infringement. Case and point: think of how many substantially similar shots there are of Michelangelo's, Statue of David, taken from the same location, same angle, same time of day, same lighting, possibly the same number of tourists wearing red sweaters looking up at David, etc. (I think this would then also touch on the issue of public domain ... but that is another discussion for another time.)

Another case:

Following is a seemingly similar case with a different outcome -- this case was that of the book cover for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil versus the use of a similar image for the film version of the book and its poster. Here again, there were instructions to create a similar image, but the Court ruled that it was not copyright infringement. Following is a summary of the case from www.advertisinglawyer.ca. And, here is the actual Court Document.

The United States case involves the movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on the John Berendt book of the same title. Those who have seen the book will readily recall Jack Leigh's jacket photograph of the sculpture in Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery, known as "the Bird Girl." The sculpture was sculpted in 1938 by Sylvia Shaw Judson, and was placed at that time in the Lucy Trosdal family burial plot.

In 1997, when Warner Bros. was in the midst of filming, Leigh asked if they would be using his photograph in connection with the film's publicity. Warner Bros. declined the invitation, saying that they would be creating their own images of the Bird Girl.

Warner Bros. obtained permission from Judson's heirs to make a replica of the sculpture, applying a weathered finish to it. They encountered problems in obtaining permission from the Trosdal family to place the replica in their plot, and decided to place it in a different location within the cemetery. When all was said and done, the Warner Bros. photograph of the Bird Girl evoked a resemblance to Leigh's photograph, and both had the same eerie look and feel. Leigh sued for copyright infringement.

Since there is no copyright in an idea, only in how one expresses that idea, the use of the same subject matter in two works does not in and of itself result in an infringement of copyright. Two people can therefore photograph the same subject. The protection granted to a photographer is in the posing of the subject, lighting, timing, the shading that evokes a desired expression, the selection and arrangement of costumes, draperies and accessories, the angles photographed from, and other such variants.

Based on these principles, the court first decided that Leigh was not entitled to copyright protection of his choice of subject matter, namely the Bird Girl in Bonaventure Cemetery. The court also said that since the sculpture had been in the same position in the Trosdale plot for some fifty years, Leigh could not claim originality in the background for his photograph. Nor could Leigh claim protection for the pose or expression of the statue, since he did not select these or alter the statue's physical appearance in any way.

The Court also decided that Leigh could not claim that the eerie or spiritual mood of the photograph was capable of protection, saying:

"statues in cemeteries are often photographed in a manner evoking an eerie or spiritual mood and thus these moods can be said to flow naturally from the subject matter… ."

Leigh contended that the statue represented the idea of the final judgment on the main character in the book. To this, the Court said:

"the idea of a forlorn cemetery statue representing final judgment cannot be protected by copyright. (Leigh’s) original expression of that idea, that being the elements of his photograph over which he exerted original creative control can be protected. It is these elements that that must be compared…and not the ideas that they convey."

The Court then looked at the copyrightable elements in Leigh's photograph (lighting, shading, timing, angle, background scenes, etc.) and noted that the Warner Bros. photograph was set farther back, and was slightly off-centre. More headstones, and different headstones, were visible, background trees were much larger, light streams were different and the Warner Bros. photograph had a different tint.

The Court concluded the case this way:

"(Leigh) may be correct in asserting that if it were not for his idea, the Bird Girl would not be associated with (the film). Nevertheless, copyright law does not protect his idea. Warner Bros.' expressions of that idea are original and different from (Leigh's). The only similarity between the images are of the sculpture in the cemetery. This aspect of the images, however, is not copyrightable."

Book cover
Movie Poster

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Timothy Allen

I came upon a BBC site for which photographer, Timothy Allen, kept a blog as he shadowed BBC film crews shooting the BBC series entitled, Human Planet.

Rather than post so many worthy images, I am sharing the following link so you can see what he has determined to be his Top 40 favorite photographs from his Human Planet journey. I would have had to paste 40 images were I to show you why this photographer is being featured on my blog ... so I'm taking the easy way out. Click here: Timothy Allen Top 40 Roundup of Favorite Photographs, Human Planet Journey

I realize a picture is worth a thousand words, but I encourage you to read the captions associated with each image in this compilation. The photographs are powerful enough, but to then find out that, for instance, the children at the open fire pit are cooking Goliath tarantulas in Venezuela, gives new meaning to the photograph. The captions allowed me to view the images with greater appreciation -- the photography often brings us to places we have never been before, and at least for me, I want to know where these places are ... Mongolia where we see the beauty of the landscape and a nomadic family moving across the frame to their winter camp ... the "Urban Jungle" of Jaipur, Rajastan, India where we see monkeys sitting on the rooftop in a matter-of-fact, ordinary way -- just another "day in the life" sort of moment.

When have you seen a Huli Tribe in Papua New Guinea or seen the Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Sabah, Malaysia? I am compelled more than ever to see more of the world, but at least this brings me a little closer to fruition.

This photograph: Mombasa, Kenya

Top photograph: Huli Tribe, Papua New Guinea