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Photo: Timothy Briner, from It’s A Helluva Town, in Businessweek.

THE BEST SHOT

Timothy Briner is doing the most different stuff. Whether being different will distinguish it from the crowd, we’ll see.

I was disappointed with early coverage of the Hurricane. Given the superstorm conditions photographers were getting many more misses than hits.

The biggest miss was TIME’s first dispatch of Instagram images the day after Sandy hit. Only Michael Christopher Brown of the five photographers  - Kashi, Quilty, Lowy, Wilkes and Brown – had some successful frames. TIME has continued adding to its gallery of Sandy images so the older photos (31 – 57) are toward the end.

Photo: Michael Christopher Brown/TIME. Con Edison workers clean a manhole on 7th Avenue and 22nd Street in Manhattan. Source

BUT, photographers were not at fault. It was editors’ mistakes to publish below par images. Half of the photographers images I saw in the first 36 hours were from assigned photographers carrying smartphones. In low light, blustery weather the smartphones fell way short of the test.

THE MONEY SHOT

Kenneth Jarecke lays into TIME for their use of Instagram photos. Okay he references Gene Smith where there is perhaps little relevance and lists all sorts of other reasons such as Instagram getting rich of millions off other peoples’ content, but those are not the core of his burning anger. Jarecke is angry because the pictures are poor, and I can’t disagree with him. Of TIME, Jarecke says:

It’s shameful and you should be embarrassed. Not to say these shots weren’t well seen (which is the hardest part), just that they were poorly executed. Which is to say they fail as photographs.

What was weird was that in a Forbes article largely defending TIME mag’s use of Instagram images there was little discussion of the images qualities, more an emphasis on stats and page views.

Time’s photography blog, was “one of the most popular galleries we’ve ever done,” says [Photo Editor, Kira] Pollack, and it was responsible for 13% of all the site’s traffic during a week when Time.com had its fourth-biggest day ever. Time’s Instagram account attracted 12,000 new followers during a 48-hour period.

Pollack’s description of Lowy’s bland, color-field image of a wave chosen for the print magazine’s front cover as “painterly” due to its low res sums it all up; the TIME cover is known to favor photo-illustrations over straight photographs.

THE CHEAP SHOT

Sometimes articles are written as if it is still some surprise that amateur photographs shape our media and consciousness. American Photo describes the lifecycle of a viral photo.

Photo: Nick Cope. Rising flood waters as seen from the window of his Red Hook, Brooklyn apartment.

When we’re all hungry for information and we’re all sharing everything we can get a peek at then an amateur snap, if it is informative enough, will find it’s way to us very quickly.

I admire that American Photo quoted fully from this dude who got that photo.

“It was hard to track [the photo's path to "viral"] — I was also preparing for a hurricane at the time! And for a good part of the morning I was at a cafe in the neighborhood, chatting with the owner who was mixing up Bloody Marys, and so it was a combination of hanging out with folks in the neighborhood and getting prepared for the storm. And then I start getting all these calls.”

THE TRUSTED SHOT

As ever, Damon Winter makes a bloody good fist of it for the New York Times.

The BIG Atlantic In Focus delivers with a typically epic selection off the wires. Crushed cars, boats on boats, burnt embers, friends hugging/crying, aerial shots of devastation, gas lines, strewn debris (homes), rescued old english sheepdog, destroyed pier and amusement rides, phones charging, pitch black streets, canoe in a living room, downed bridge and then this incredible picture by Seth Wenig of food being dumped.

Men dispose of shopping carts full of food damaged by Hurricane Sandy at the Fairway supermarket in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn in New York, on October 31, 2012. The food was contaminated by flood waters that rose to approximately four feet in the store during the storm. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

THE HORROR SHOT

Gilles Peress‘ very personal letter in which he appears to be having a breakdown is shared with the world.

“I have to say that in twelve years, to have shot pictures at 9/11 downtown, and again downtown in 2008 when the financial system collapsed, and now, is intense: big city, big tragedies, and a sense of having entered into a different period of history.”

I really want to know who CK and GH, the letters recipients, are.

Peress talks about homelessness and the poor being forgotten in the delivery of aid and services. Michael Shaw at BagNewsNotes wrote about the homeless being forgotten in the coverage.

Back to In Focus. Today, another good edit by Alan Taylor’s team. These two images stood out.

John De Guzman photographs a massive pile of mucky, busted furniture and appliances.

Photo: John De Guzman. A street lined with water-damaged debris in Staten Island.

John Minchillo photographed a lady who is better camouflaged than the national guardsmen beside her. I wonder what she bought at Whole Foods?

Photo: AP Photo/John Minchillo. A woman passes a group of National Guardsmen as they march up 1st Avenue towards the 69th Regiment Armory, on November 3, 2012, in New York. National Guardsmen remain in Manhattan as the city begins to move towards normalcy following Superstorm Sandy earlier in the week.

THE EVERYTHING SHOT

Everybody’s been very excited about the New York Magazine’s cover aerial photograph of a lightless Lower Manhattan.

It’s only fitting to finish these thoughts with a nod to two perhaps lesser feted Instagram photographers – after all, Instagram had record number of hashtaggles for #Sandy #HurricaneSandy and #Frankenstorm.

Wyatt Gallery has been following clean-up closely.

Clayton Cubitt is a bit more wry in his approach including this GSV comparison which is typical of Cubitt’s sideways thinking on most things visual. Good stuff.

Photo: Clayton Cubitt. Posted on Instagram, “One day you’re living the American dream. The next…”

Brazil’s Polinters

This past weekend, I met several staff members from the Open Society Institute’s Documentary Photography Project. Wyatt Gallery’s Tent Life: Haiti, exhibited at Photoville, is work supported by the Documentary Photography Project.

“The photographs are testament to the strength and dignity of the Haitian community after the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake,” writes Amy Yenkin, director of the Documentary Photography Project

OSI also partly-funded the Magnum Foundation’s work Bruce Gilden’s No Place Like Home: Foreclosures in America and Sim Chi Yin’s Rat Tribe in an overarching initiative exploring of the idea of ‘Home.’ Photoville details here.

I’ll talk more about Photoville and those connections later, but here I want to bring your attention to OSI’s initiative that goes beyond photography specifically. OSI is running the Global Campaign for Pretrial Justice.

“Every year some 10 million people around the world spend time locked up in prison cells and detention centers while they await a court appearance. Many will end up spending months or even years behind bars without ever seeing a judge,” reports OSI.

Pretrial detention is something I’ve concerned myself with before, for example in promoting Nathalie Mohadjer’s photography.

OSI has produced two reports: “The Socioeconomic Impact of Pretrial Detention” and “Pretrial Detention and Torture: Why Pretrial Detainees Face the Greatest Risk,” both argue a reduction in excessive use of pretrial incarceration and to save costs to governments and communities.

In conjunction with the reports, OSI has produced four videos about those who’ve suffered loss of liberty or loss of family in unaccountable systems. The photos are by Ed Kashi. The audio by Rob Rosenthal. (Ed Kashi also made the bio pics for the Documentary Photography Project staff!)

I was surprised by the incredibly low Youtube viewing numbers – from as low as 60 to less than 300. I hope this is due only to the fact that the videos have been embedded on sites and have in fact been viewed many more times in the last month than just the few hundred reported on the individual Youtube pages.

OSI is also a massive (much larger) foundation than I ever knew. 400+ employees in New York and more than 2,000 worldwide. It produces campaigns at such a rate that I expect many get lost in the relentless roll out. Here, I hope I can do my bit; I encourage you to watch these dispatches.

Vinthenga’s Story

Benson’s Story

Deize & Indaiá Stories

Follow OSI’s program about pretrial justice on Twitter: @PretrialJustice

EMAIL

prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com

RSS PETE BROOK FOR RAWFILE, WIRED.COM

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