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Photo: Timothy Briner, from It’s A Helluva Town, in Businessweek.
THE BEST SHOT
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.
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.
Photo: Clayton Cubitt. Posted on Instagram, “One day you’re living the American dream. The next…”
FOR A HANDLE ON THE US MILITARY’S COMPLICITY IN WIDESPREAD TORTURE IN SAMARRA, IRAQ, WATCH THIS.
FRAGO 242 is the US military’s abbreviation of a “fragmentary order” given to US military operatives.
When US military became aware of Iraqi torture of other Iraqis, to quote The Guardian‘s David Leigh, “FRAGO 242 meant that no further investigation was necessary.” When in the custody of Iraqi security forces, detainees were subjected to horrendous abuse. The US turned a blind-eye. The information about this is brilliantly presented in this seven minute video.
Iraqi commandos securing the area after a car chase resulted in the arrest of foreign terrorists. Gilles Peress/Magnum, for The New York Times. (Cropped from original)
Included in the seven minute video are Gilles Peress’ images from a New York Times assignment in 2005. (You can find 23 of Peress’ image from the assignment by searching “Peress Iraq Counterterrorism Commandos” on the Magnum website.)
The writer for that assignment was Peter Maass. He was reporting on the elite Iraq Ministry of Interior Commando Force, known as the Wolf Brigade. For the assignment, Maass shadowed Col. James Steele who he describes as “Petraeus’ man.”
At the invite of Steele, Maas visited a Samarra interrogation center. In this same video, Maass describes the sights and sounds of torture from within. During the interview incredibly loud screams of pain could be heard throughout the building. According to Maass, Steele left the room, the screams fell silent, Steele returned and Maass continued his interview with a Saudi prisoner.
Steele has not yet commented on Maass’ account of that day in Samarra.
General Abul Waleed, Head of Command for the Wolf Brigade, and Col. James Steele, Samarra, Iraq. Gilles Peress/Magnum, for The New York Times.
WHAT JOHN MOORE DIDN’T PHOTOGRAPH
All of this is a very interesting counterpoint to John Moore’s In American Custody.
Moore’s compilation of images from embedded positions at Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper (2003-2007) have been roundly celebrated since their publication on the 22nd Oct. I don’t see it. The collection is a politically safe edit of images from a war we are technically out of; they are the product of US military deceit. Moore was their pawn.
Moore’s images are benign in comparison to the descriptions set forth by Maass, the Wikileaks files and the thousands of Iraqis whose stories of torture have fallen on deaf ears for the past six plus years.