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Exhibitions

Ted Barron at the Boogie Woogie Flu blog posted two very cool MP3 tracks of Weegee and Henri Cartier-Bresson speaking about photography. The Online Photographer also pointed us to some other audio clips of radio interviews with Weegee from 1945, including an explanation of how he got his name.

Kodak announced on Monday that they will retire the 74-year old Kodachrome film because, quite simply, it’s not selling. Is it ironic or perfect timing that National Geographic Museum’s new exhibition, which runs through September 7, is “Kodachrome Culture: the American tourist in Europe“?

The best-remembered Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett died of cancer on Thursday at the age of 62. The New York Times had a nice tribute, and Bruce McBroom, the photographer behind the actress’ iconic poster, shared the story of the serendipitous shoot.

With the recent Iran media ban, there is a growing concern for the lack of professional conflict coverage. Paul Melcher had a great piece on why war photographers are rarer than ever. A timely wake up call for anyone who really cares about photojournalism.

I grew up in Athens, Ohio, so I’ve always enjoyed Soul of Athens, a rich online multimedia piece first produced in 2007 by students at Ohio University Scripps College of Communication. The 2009 edition launches today. I’m not the only one who has been impressed by the project — it placed just behind National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, and the L.A. Times for best online publication in last year’s Pictures of the Year International. I talked with Jenn Poggi, one of the project’s senior produces, about organizing such a large project. Despite working entirely with students, she shares lessons that are useful for the most experienced professionals. And don’t miss the team’s list of inspirational online presentations at the bottom of this post.

Soul Of Athens 2009 Trailer from AthensHasSoul on Vimeo.

Miki Johnson: Tell me about the goals of the Soul of Athens project.

Jenn Poggi: One of our fundamental goals is to replicate the editorial experience, whether it’s in the newsroom or whether it’s in a more corporate setting where you’re producing a product. It’s not just about that final product; it’s also about taking a group of people, bringing them together, and going through the process together.

The other obvious goal is to examine the soul or makeup of this unique community. We have to ask ourselves, what kind of preconceived notions do we come to the project with? How are we going to shape this project or allow it to be shaped? And how are we going to present different materials in a manner that’s approachable for the audience?

This year we have broadened the kind of content that’s being presented on the site. There have been pieces besides audio/video and still photography presented in the past, like the first year there was a Second Life component. But this year we are doing it in a more inclusive way. We have several interactive informational graphics; we have written pieces. Sometimes several assets are being packaged to address a specific topic. For example, a piece on drilling oil in Ohio has an informational graphic with it, as well as multi-media still photography video presentations.

The team is also thinking about how to present this material and cross-promote it, so there are more ways to search and access the different pieces that exist. That’s one thing that the news industry is getting better at, but there are still many publications that produce a huge project and a few days after it’s posted, it disappears because it’s not re-promoted or cross-promoted.

There are so many big online projects that disappear a few days after they are posted.

MJ: How are the students who work on the project chosen and organized?

JP: The first year, Soul of Athens was produced by a relatively small group, the brainchild of a couple of very talented people. Now it’s grown into this institutional project, with a class in the spring quarter. We meet once a week, as if it were an editorial budget meeting in a newsroom. The team of senior producers had been meeting earlier and we had students present a resume and cover letter about their skills and what they’d like to focus on: producing, content creation, development. We tried to pull in people from all majors — information graphic people, designers, still photographers, videographers, sound people, developers, and coders.

MJ: Regarding multimedia, how do you decide where it works and where it doesn’t, when to do audio or video?

JP: First we created a list of all the different story pitches the students made. Then each senior producer went down the list and grabbed several ideas to help shepherd. Each senior producer met with their team to understand their stories and what particular skill sets each person had.

Now that we’re approaching our launch date, as the content is being brought to final production, we are going back and reviewing each of the pieces as a group and deciding what’s a good mix — of topics, storytelling techniques, and assets. With a complicated project like this, you never sit down, hand out a series of deadlines, and say, we need this many people, these pieces of content. It’s not a scientific equation. It’s constantly evolving. When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, there’s always gonna be a little chaos during that final crunch time. You just have to be able to change on the fly and stay fluid through those moments of chaos.

MJ: How did you think about synthesizing everything together and how people would move through the site?

Soul of Athens Senior Producer Carrie Pratt troubleshoots a quandary with the web site's operating code.

Soul of Athens Senior Producer Carrie Pratt troubleshoots a quandary with the website.

JP: People were working on design ideas at the same time we were coming up with content. In a perfect world, you would assemble all of the content, then look at it and figure out what’s the best way to present that. But we work like we would in a newsrooms, where lots of these things have to happen simultaneously.

The designers made pitches on how they envisioned the Soul of Athens site coming together. One group of people investigated the texture of this community. What do we see in our environment, both man-made natural? Another team talked about the sounds that are happening around us. Designers also had to consider how to present information in a way that fulfills the basic requirements of good navigation.

We culled the initial pitches down to three, which were presented to the whole group. The class as a whole voted on what direction to take. I think in the newsroom setting, because of time constraints, which are worse than ever, this planning part of the process often gets left out — but it’s so important.

MJ: You mentioned that you have people specifically dedicated to promoting Soul of Athens. What have they been doing?

JP: We’re creating some pre-launch energy with things like a trailer video (above). We looked at places that covered Soul of Athens in the past, as well as places that haven’t. Then we looked at new things that have developed this year, like Multimedia Muse, that are really highlighting great work.

At the local level, we’re making t-shirts for the team; we’re chalking up the sidewalks around the community; we’re plastering Post-Its with a slogan and logo around town. There’s a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. There was also a postcard campaign where postcards were created inviting members of the community to contribute their ideas about what the Soul of Athens is. They could write or draw something, then drop it in a post box and have them sent back to us here on campus. Eventually that will become it’s own piece of content on the website.

  • After a 4-month hiatus, the photo-sharing community magazine JPG is back in action. The last few months were a roller-coaster ride: since the announcement of its closure in January, there’s been news after news of possible buyouts, but nothing confirmed until late February. JPG sent out its official “back in business” announcement on Tuesday, May 12, to its community members. Expect the new JPG to hit news stands soon.
  • We were glad to read that Iranian American photojournalist Roxana Saberi was finally released from the infamous Evin prison Sunday, after the court reduced her conviction from 8 years in prison to suspended sentence of two years as a result of a five-hour appeals hearing. Saberi was detained by the Iranian government in January and subsequently convicted of espionage charges. Her release comes at an opportune time — the film she co-scripted, “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday.
  • The much-anticipated Richard Avedon retrospective opens today the International Center of Photography in New York City. The exhibition includes images that the master fashion and portrait photographer created between 1944 to 2000. The New York Times has a great article and audio slideshow about Avedon and the exhibition.
  • The latest NASA mission to fix the Hubble telescope has been all over the news this week. Last week NASA released some of the last pictures produced by the 16-year-old camera on Hubble — the new ones will take a little while to hit the internet. These ones are so breath-taking, we can’t imagine how stunning images from the new $126 million camera will be.

At RESOLVE, we believe that photography used the right way can create positive social change. L.A.-based celebrity photographer Amy Tierney believes that just the act of photojournalism itself can have a tremendous impact. She started the “I Dream To…” program three years ago, which teaches underserved teen girls photojournalism as a means to gain the social skills they need to become “confident, college-ready, and career-minded.” Tomorrow (May 2) is the 3rd Annual “I Dream To…” exhibition, where this year’s participants will exhibit their photographs at the Helms Bakery Complex in Culver City, California. We talked to Amy recently to find out more about the program.
Gertz HS student Gigi Rodas taking a picture of her mentor, Immigration Attorney Victoria Duong

Gertz HS student Gigi Rodas taking a picture of her mentor, Immigration Attorney Victoria Duong

Carmen Suen: Tell me about how the “I Dream To…” program works.

Amy Tierney: It is a semester long program where me and my co-instructor, photographer Emily Hart Roth, go to the participating schools every week for a one-and-a-half-hour class to teach the girls the skills that they need to be a photojournalist, including how to use a camera, how to use Lightroom to produce edits, how to conduct an interview, and so on. Each of them has to choose a woman who they want to do an interview with, usually someone in the career field of the student’s dream, or someone who inspires them.

Towards the end of the semester, they interview their subject, take pictures during the interview, and write up an article as their final projects. We then post these articles on the “I Dream To…” blog, so others can see their work. We also take the girls to a photography studio so they can see what a true working studio and a photographer’s daily work life is like.

But the highlight of the program is the exhibition. Not only do the girls get the chance to show family and friends their own work, but they can also be introduced to different people in the community. It’s a great way for them to practice their social skills.

LA Leadership student Narvy Vasquez, as photographed by her fellow student Jacky Rodriguez

LA Leadership student Narvy Vasquez, as photographed by her fellow student Jacky Rodriguez

CS: What is your role in this program?

AT: I am actually a founder and mentor of the “I Dream To…” program, which started in 2007. At the time, I was already involved with StepUp Women’s Network’s L.A. Chapter. One of the mission of StepUp is to inspire and empower high school girls in underserved communities to achieve their dreams. I believe art can help us understand the world around us. And so I decided to bring art to these high school girls. Because of my own background, photography seemed to be the obvious choice.

Through photography, photojournalism in particular, you get the opportunity to interact with a multitude of people. I think people skills is one of the most essential skills for one to succeed in life.

CS: Do you feel like the program is achieving its goals?

AT: I would say it’s very well received. Jamie Kogan, Step Up Women’s Network’s program manager really keeps us going.  This year is the third year, and the program has expanded from L.A. to Chicago and New York. We got so many hugs and thank-yous at the end of each semester. Some of the girls who have participated in the program have taken a serious interest in photojournalism and have decided to pursue it as a career. That’s a very big encouragement for us.

We also have to thank our sponsors for helping us financially. Our organization is non-profit and depends largely on financial assistance from our donors. We hope that they will continue to help make this program happen.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Have you seen other places where learning to make photographs has empowered people?

  • RESOLVE contributor Michael Shaw is hosting his next BAGnewsSalon over at BAGnewsNotes this Sunday, May 3. Michael hosts these online, real-time image analysis sessions frequently and the discussion is always lively. The topic this time is Obama: The First 100 Days; guest participants include Alan Chin (another RESOLVE contributor), Nina Berman, David Burnett, Brian Ulrich, Mario Tama, and PDN news editor Daryl Lang, plus a bunch of historians and professors.
  • In keeping with the Obama theme, the “I Do Solemnly Swear: Photographs of the 2009 Presidential Inauguration” exhibition is currently on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. David Hume Kennerly, the Ford White House photographer, and Robert McNeely, President Clinton’s official photographer, were commissioned to lead a team of more than 24 photographers in capturing the inauguration. It opened April 29, the 100th day of the Obama administration, and will run through July 12.
  • The New York Times has a fantastic slideshow of pictures buried in the recently found “Mexican Suitcase,” three filmsy cardboard boxes of negatives of photographs taken during the Spanish Civil War by photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David Seymour. Capa left the boxes of negatives in his Paris darkroom before he fled to America in 1939. It was believed that the negatives traveled from Paris to Marseille and eventually to Mexico City, where they resided for more than half a century before they were turned over to the International Center of Photography in NYC last year.
  • Since the high-def video camera RedONE was launched last year, photographers everywhere have been curious to see how it would eventually make the still cameras obsolete. Then Greg Williams, uses one to shoot his June Esquire cover of Megan Fox and needless to say, people like APhotoEditor have things to say about it. You can also watch a sneak peek of Greg’s behind-the-scenes video.

In the short time since photographers Cara Phillips and Amy Elkins launched Women In Photography in June 2008, the online exhibition space for female photographers has received a deluge of recognition and submissions that at times have overwhelmed the founders — who manage the website in their spare time, for free. They announced their first grant, for $3,000, several weeks ago. With the May 1 deadline approaching, we wanted to talk with Amy and Cara about how the grant fits into their larger goals, and what applicants need to know about the submission process.
"Eden" by Women In Photography exhibitor Kelli Connell ©Kelli Connell

"Eden" by Women In Photography exhibitor Kelli Connell ©Kelli Connell

Miki Johnson: Tell me briefly about the goals of WIPNYC and why it was important to be able to offer this grant.

WIP: Women in Photography is an online exhibition project designed to highlight the work of emerging, mid-career, and established artists. Our goal is to be a resource for curators, editors, and publishers, and also to create a visual dialog between women artists working in the photographic medium.

We have both been overwhelmed by the positive response to the site. Both of us have spent a great deal of time thinking about what we want the site to contribute to the photographic community. The next logical step in our programming was a grant. Because like the site, it allows us to both support and call attention to the work of women artists.

MJ: What is the main goal of this grant?

WIP: The main goal of the grant is to provide funding to one female photographer in support of a project. I think funding is a problem for artists working in all mediums, unless you have independent means or are extremely successful in the commercial art world. Photographers must pay for film, processing, equipment, travel, in addition to the high cost of creating work for exhibition or self-publishing. We both have struggled to fund our own work and find great importance in these types of opportunities. With so few grants available, it just seemed great to be able to give back.

MJ: How will you determine the recipient? Do you have any tips for photographers planning to submit?

WIP: We will select the recipient based on the quality of work, and the need of the applicant along with the strength of their project proposal. The most important thing is to submit five of your strongest images from a cohesive body of work as well as make sure to write clear, concise, and persuasive project goals. The grant is open to women at any stage in their career, except students. It is open to the artists previously shown on WIPNYC.org as well.

MJ: And the grant recipient will also be exhibited at WIPNYC.org?

WIP: The grant recipient will have a solo show on the site in June. In addition, we will have an award reception, including a slideshow presentation of the grant recipients’ work at the National Arts Club in New York City.

Because the solo shows we feature are online, we can reach a broader audience. Our visitors do not need to be in a specific city because they are accessing the work worldwide. The site traffic has grown dramatically with each show, which is one of the benefits of exhibiting work online. Several of our artists have seen a noticeable increase of traffic on their own sites. Being featured on the site has led to many things, including magazine assignments and inquiries from publishers and galley representation.

  • According to an Associated Press report, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton called for the release of detained American-Iranian photojournalist Roxana Saberi at a press conference yesterday, two days after the NPPA released an announcement that the Iranian government admitted Saberi was held in prison. Since the US currently has no diplomatic relations with Iran, the State Department is now working with Swiss officials to find out details of her detention. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) started a Facebook petition which had already collected over 5,500 signatures as of yesterday afternoon. NPPA has more on Saberi and the arrest here and here. For a complete story and update, go to Free Roxana website.
  • Moodboard, the London-based stock photo agency that has gained popularity in this struggling economy, debuted its digital magazine ONE this week. While some think that the stock industry is in freefall, Moodboard CEO Mike Watson thinks it is the perfect solution for photographers and creatives to counter the slashed marketing and photography budgets companies everywhere are experiencing. Regardless, we think the 34-page magazine is visually pleasing and a great attempt to connect with the photography community at large.
  • The 50 States Project published its first “assignment” on March 1. The innovative online gallery pulls together 50 emerging photographers, one from each state, and asks them to make a photo according a bimonthly theme. The first theme was “People,” and the photographers were asked to create images that convey their own style as well as the feel of their home state. A Photo Editor has already given it his blessing and undoubtedly other editors have bookmarked the page as well.

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