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On this blog last week, I raised questions about the viability of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award jury process. The 2011 winner Jan Grarup is a colleague with one of the five jurors, Stanley Greene.

Grarup and Greene, with seven other photographers, co-founded the NOOR Images Agency, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in September 2007.

I emailed the offices of both the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and NOOR Images with the following questions:

Do you see this as a conflict of interest?
Did you foresee this as a problem before judging began?
Was Stanley Greene exempt from voting on entries by fellow NOOR photographers?
I am interested to know the jury process and if Leica Oskar Barnack Award believes it needs to defend itself against ethical questions.

The questions were designed to be relatively open and non-accusatory while getting at each bodies’ staked and defendable positions.

TINA WIESNER ON BEHALF OF THE LEICA OSKAR BARNACK AWARD

Leica Camera AG invited 5 jury members for the 2011 judging of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award / Newcomer Award.

The jury voted “unanimously” for the winner. There was no conflict of interest.

Please note that we received more than 2000 entries, representing photographers from 89 countries, many of them independent or working for renowned agencies. During the judging process, the jury concentrates on the editing of the series of 10 – 12 images and the information given about the story behind.

CLAUDIA HINTERSEER ON BEHALF OF NOOR IMAGES

One of our photographers was invited to be on the jury and another NOOR photographer was allowed to enter work according to the Leica Oskar Barnack entry rules.

The Leica Oskar Barnack organization has judging rules in place and a secretary to oversee these are being abided to. Like most other international photography competitions, their judging rules includes a clause that at crucial moments jury members have to announce specific working and/or personal relationships where there tends to be a conflict of interest. I know that Stanley Greene has made no secret of the fact that he, Jan Grarup and seven other photographers (and myself) founded a photography collective several years ago. Taking into account the professionalism of the other jury members of this year’s LOB competition, and trusting the fact that the Leica Oskar Barnack secretary does his/her duty, I trust that the multi-membered jury’s decision was made on the basis of the outstanding quality of Jan Grarup’s work, rather than on the basis of one jury member’s particular business interest.

In his career, Jan Grarup has been honored with some of the most prestigious awards from the photography industry and human rights organizations, including: World Press Photo, UNICEF, W. Eugene Smith Foundation for Humanistic Photography, POYi and NPPA.

Looking at other international photography contests you will be amazed how often jury members are professionally or – as is very common in our industry – personally (on the basis of friendships) related to photographers whose work is rewarded.

A few things:

I am still unclear as to whether Wiesner’s “unanimously” means Greene voted or abstained on Grarup’s work; whether his vote was important or not to Grarup’s win.

Hinterseer’s argument is a little more convincing than Wiesner’s, mainly because she explains the mechanics of the jury process.

Grarup’s past awards have no relevance to this issue.

Hinterseer softens the blow by saying pretty much that this sort of thing happens all the time. And it is this last point that I think is the take away. I’ve not given it any thought in the past. Let’s change that.

I took a quick look at the judging process at the World Press Photo and noted Stephen Mayes, managing director of VII Photo. I thought it a pretty safe bet that a VII Photo photographer won something at WPP. Sure enough, Ed Kashi won the Contemporary Issues: 2nd Prize Singles.

No judgement on Kashi, Mayes or VII; I’ve just used them to illustrate Hinterseer’s point. Besides, the labyrinthine WPP jury process probably rinses out much direct influence.

So, I’ll conclude with two questions. 1) Is this situation – as suggested – really unavoidable? 2) If so, what are we to make of this web of casual association and sanctioned incest when it comes to industry awards?

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Last week, Danish photojournalist Jan Grarup was awarded the Oskar Barnack Leica Award 2011 for Haiti Aftermath.

COLOUR VS. BLACK AND WHITE

Grarup tells TIME.com: “I want to put some focus on what is going on in other places in the world. […] When you try to photograph things from perspective, you get a little more in-depth of what is happening.”

So, I guess my question is ‘Does colour not exist in the other places of the world?’ Grarup originally shot the images in colour, converting to B&W in post-production. It should be said that not all images in his Barnack entry are part of the original dispatch and so there is a (slight) chance those files were made originally in B&W. [UPDATE 06.22.11, 10:00PST. It could be that as Grarup shot in RGB, and had his screen displaying B&W. It could be that he never intended to use colour. Yet, everything’s colour still, as you look at it through the viewfinder.]

I include shots from his 136-image portfolio, dispatched to his agency NOOR briefly after his stint in Haiti, so you can compare them with the B&W images of his winning portfolio. I’m not here to argue for or against colour and/or B&W – I just want to provide a starting point for conversation.

FABIENNE CHERISMA

As part of my ongoing inquiry into the photojournalism surrounding Fabienne Cherisma’s death, Grarup offered Prison Photography a brief Q&A in March 2010.

Grarup took several photographs of Fabienne Cherisma dead on the collapsed roof-top; it’s an image, I argue, is both multi-authored and synonymous with the Haiti earthquake. Grarup did not include such an image in his Barnack entry, but did include a photograph of Fabienne’s brother and sister over her corpse after she’d been retrieved from the rooftop.

JUROR CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

And to the main issue at hand. Jan Grarup, a member of NOOR Images, was given the award by a five-person jury. One of the jurors was Stanley Greene, a member of NOOR Images.

I should say that, by my reckoning, NOOR is one of the most responsible photo agencies I’ve looked at; it’s stories impress me consistently and they have a couple of my preferred photographers on staff. This is not a distant attack, but a very specific question as to how they could possibly see this one panning out without any questions being asked.

Moreover, the Oskar Barnack Award (OBA) either shouldn’t have allowed Greene on the jury, or if he was so vital to the jury process, they should’ve insisted NOOR photographers needn’t apply. Both NOOR and OBA have exposed themselves unnecessarily to ethical questions.

THE PURPOSE OF THIS POST?

1) These images provide anchors to which the endless colour vs. B&W debate can gain some focus.

2) Stanley Greene‘s role as a juror deserves to come under serious scrutiny. As a member of NOOR images, it’s difficult to ignore the conflict of interest.

3) I feel obliged to report on any news, updates and industry awards as they have concerned the photographers involved in my original inquiry.

Jan Grarup photographs police beating a looter in downtown Port-au-Prince Tuesday afternoon. © Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star.

ALSO IN THE ‘PHOTOGRAPHING FABIENNE’ SERIES

Part One: Fabienne Cherisma (Initial inquiries, Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban Mattei)
Part Two: More on Fabienne Cherisma (Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Part Three: Furthermore on Fabienne Cherisma (Michael Mullady)
Part Four: Yet more on Fabienne Cherisma (Linsmier, Nathan Weber)
Part Five: Interview with Edward Linsmier
Part Six: Interview with Jan Grarup
Part Seven: Interview with Paul Hansen
Part Eight: Interview with Michael Winiarski
Part Nine: Interview with Nathan Weber
Part Ten: Interview with James Oatway
Part Eleven: Interview with Nick Kozak
Part Twelve: Two Months On (Winiarski/Hansen)
Reporter Rory Carroll Clarifies Some Details
Part Fourteen: Interview with Alon Skuy
Part Fifteen: Conclusions (Matt Levitch, Felix Dlangamandla)
Part Sixteen: Fabienne Cherisma’s Corpse Features at Perpignan (Frederic Sautereau)
Part Seventeen: Brouhaha in Sweden following Award to Paul Hansen for his Image of Fabienne Cherisma (Paul Hansen, Olivier Laban Mattei, James Oatway)
Part Eighteen: A Photo of Fabienne Cherisma by Another Photographer Wins Another Award (Lucas Oleniuk)

 

©Aaron Huey Source: http://www.emphas.is/home.html

PREAMBLE

I just watched a great independent documentary about PsychOps and their widespread use in consumer propaganda. It is no surprise that empire is built on  mind-plays upon the populace with regard their daily choices as it is on the mind-plays upon the same populace to sell its military invasions and murder during time of war invasion & occupation in foreign lands.

MEDIA & CONTROL

It’s still too early in the new media game to see if power really can be wrenched from big media – partakers in the psych-ops – and put into hands of the little guys. (And, this is not to suggest that the little guys will make better decisions, but it’d be a shift for sure). But, in terms of media and the stories we want told, can we imagine a media landscape over which we have more control?

We can feed photojournalism directly, if we only imagine ourselves as being in power.

Two tools have come to light this past week which seem feasible.

The first, Flattr, is a web-app which allows the user/recipient (note, I shied from the term ‘consumer’!) to express instant gratitude and give money to the producer of content. Flattr is built into the infrastructure of the web and applies to any and all content, not just photographer and not just journalism.

The second, Emphas.is, pertains specifically to photojournalism. If we are sick of celebrity pap filling our screens should we not be chomping at the bit for a model of production/consumption that is advertisement free and hands us some agency?

WHERE TO PLACE THE EMPHAS.IS

Emphas.is is well aware of the success of the crowd-funded model in other areas of journalism. It seems, in my opinion, to be modeling itself on Spot.Us, progressing the format and making specific its use. I know that the widespread incorporation of the platform – and even the code of the site! – were things that Spot.Us founder Dave Cohn had in mind from the start. Adopt and fine-tune for the benefit of crowd-funded media.

Spot.Us was open to photojournalist pitches, but the platform diluted the impact of PJ work amidst all its other journalistic efforts. It seems like the photo-community would be more secure if it knew it had a place to call its own. In Emphas.is it now does.

Also, in its early stages, Spot.Us necessarily focused regionally, sprouting steadily across US metropolitan regions. Emphas.is looks to have a more global view – which is only right; times and expectations of new media have changed, grown up.

Kickstarter too has served many photographers well, but its reach is even wider than Spot.Us serving mainly creatives.

So, for me at least, Emphas.is seems to fall between Spot.Us and Kickstarter

Emphas.is has an impressive list of endorsements from photo-editors and photographers (Philip Blenkinsop, Carolyn Drake, Jan Grarup, Michael Kamber, Teru Kuwayama, Dominic Nahr, Jerome Sessini, Anthony Suau, Tomas van Houtryve, Kadir van Lohuizen).

Emphas.is is the brainchild of photo editor Tina Ahrens and photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa.

Emphas.is is set to launch early 2011. I think we should start saving our pennies for the first round of pitches.

PART SIX IN A SERIES OF POSTS DISCUSSING PHOTOGRAPHERS’ ACTIONS AND RESPONSES TO THE KILLING OF FABIENNE CHERISMA IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI ON THE 19TH JANUARY 2010.

Jan Grarup was in Haiti from January 14th to 26th January.

In the central part of Port au Prince, looting is getting worse. Desperate people rob the stores and warehouses. Police try maintain law and order but can not control the increasing crowds. Tuesday, January 19th. Photo: Jan Grarup/NOOR Images

Fabienne was shot at approximately 4pm. What had you photographed earlier that day?
Mainly looting, things were going crazy in the center of Port-au-Prince.

Did you see Fabienne get shot?
Yes. I even think I photographed the police officer who shoot her.

How long was it until her family and father arrived to carry away Fabienne’s corpse?
Approximately, 30 to 40 minutes.

Osama Cherisma, Fabienne's father carries her away after followed by his son, Jeff (18) and his daughter, Amanda (13). Photo: Jan Grarup/NOOR Images

How many other photographers did you see at the scene? Do you know the photographers’ names?
I would guess about eight photographers. I know of at least five of them – Paul Hansen from Sweden, Jan Dago from Jyllands Posten … I’ll have to check the others.

How was the atmosphere? How did others behave?
Looting continued without stopping even when she was lying dead on the rooftop.

Did you discuss the tragedy with other photographers?
No, not really, it was a bad and very sad thing.

How does Fabienne’s death fit in with the visual narratives of Haiti’s earthquake aftermath?
It showed how desperate people were in order to survive.

Photo: Jan Grarup / NOOR Images

– – –

Jan Grarup is a photographer for NOOR Images. His portfolio of images from Haiti can be viewed here (Content warning). Images of and around the time of Fabienne’s shooting are on pages 1, 2 and 3.

Jan is working on a larger body of work about Fabienne but is not willing yet to offer any details.

– – –

The mentioned Jan Dago, Jyllands Posten photojournalist, could not be reached for interview. His dispatch can be viewed here (Content warning).

– – –

ALSO IN THE ‘PHOTOGRAPHING FABIENNE’ SERIES

Part One: Fabienne Cherisma (Initial inquiries, Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban Mattei)
Part Two: More on Fabienne Cherisma (Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Part Three: Furthermore on Fabienne Cherisma (Michael Mullady)
Part Four: Yet more on Fabienne Cherisma (Linsmier, Nathan Weber)
Part Five: Interview with Edward Linsmier

Part Seven: Interview with Paul Hansen
Part Eight: Interview with Michael Winiarski
Part Nine: Interview with Nathan Weber
Part Ten: Interview with James Oatway
Part Eleven: Interview with Nick Kozak
Part Twelve: Two Months On (Winiarski/Hansen)
Reporter Rory Carroll Clarifies Some Details
Part Fourteen: Interview with Alon Skuy
Part Fifteen: Conclusions

PART FOUR IN A SERIES OF POSTS DISCUSSING PHOTOGRAPHERS’ ACTIONS AND RESPONSES TO THE KILLING OF FABIENNE CHERISMA IN PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI ON THE 19TH JANUARY 2010.

On the 3rd February, Adjustment Layer posted an account by photographer Edward Linsmier. It is the fullest eye-witness account by a photographer of events surrounding Fabienne’s death that I have read.

The account doesn’t name the girl as Fabienne. Her name has been available from different sources for some time.

Also worth noting, Linsmier talks of Nathan Weber, another photographer present. I was not aware Weber was at the scene.

Fabienne Cherisma lies dead after being shot in the head by police. January 19th, 2010. © Edward Linsmier

LINSMIER’S ACCOUNT

Read the full account on Adjustment Layer.

Linsmier opens with the excess necessary to hook the reader, “We heard gunshots and knew we needed to be closer. We processed the thought for a split second and we took off running with our fixer not far behind.” and, “Emboldened by the electricity of the chaos, we advanced further and saw people laying on the ground with police yelling and waving guns in the air and shouting commands.”

Linsmier goes on, “We retreated several steps and waited behind a truck for several seconds until the police were distracted. I saw another photographer up the road and decided that we needed to make a move closer to him so we could make some pictures.”

(One presumes this other photographer is Weber?)

“We followed … onto a downed roof top that led to the exposed insides of several shops filled with the scavenging and excited crowd. We were making pictures.”

“The fixer motioned for me to come because the police had caught a man and had him down on the ground. I, in turn, motioned for my friend and fellow photographer, Nathan Weber, who was still on the slanting concrete rooftop to follow me to the commotion down the road. I yelled his name and he looked at me with a blank stare. Nathan is someone who is on point in a situation such as this. He communicates quickly, clearly and with authority when needed. He is no stranger to photographing in similar situations but something of this magnitude was new to both of us. I knew he heard me and figured he would be right behind me as I headed down to the commotion.”

Linsmier returns to see Fabienne’s body, “[I] climbed back up on the roof to see Nathan in almost the exact same spot where I last saw him, except he was looking at a girl who was lying face down on the slanting concrete roof. As best as I can recall, Nathan spoke in short sentences, “I saw her fall. I thought she tripped and knocked herself out. She’s dead. Fuck. She got shot. I was right here.”

“The decision to continue making photographs was instinctual. More photographers showed up and we were all making pictures, composing the dead girl in the foreground as the looters continued to walk past her, almost over her, carrying whatever they could. Several men stopped to turn her over, seemingly to identify the body. They gently took her arms and almost had to twist her just a little to face her upward. They looked at her with little emotion and left.”

This record of events is interesting because it doesn’t report the bypassers going through Fabienne’s pockets as the Guardian did here.

“She had been shot in the head. From what I could tell, the bullet entered her cheek and exited from the back of her head. The blood had been pooling in some picture frames she was carrying when she fell. After the men moved her, the blood began to run down the slanting concrete roof towards us. We all were still making pictures. To anybody else, it must have looked sick, a crowd of photographers vying for the best position to tell the story of the death of a girl.”

“Just about the time that I figured the pictures were over and we should leave, a frantic man and several others emerged from the crowd. It was the family of the girl. The father hoisted her onto his shoulders and began the journey of bringing his daughter home. The photographers followed. Ordinarily, this would be a scene that hardly anyone could bare to photograph. They were experiencing probably some of the most painful moments of their lives but they knew why we were there. Not once did anyone give a mean look; not once did I hear anyone question why all the photographers were following this family’s grief so intently and so closely. It was part of the story.”

THOUGHTS

The underlining above is mine. It highlights the photographers’ conscious activities. I make no judgments here. Linsmier is aware of the sensitivity of the situation. Like, Mullady, yesterday, Linsmier’s candour should be appreciated.

Photographs are deceiving. I should know that by now. When I began my inquiry into Fabienne’s death, I assumed there was a scarcity of images. I presumed only Grarup and Garcia Rawlins had witnessed and recorded the incident.

It is clear, now, that there was more photography and activity. On the scene, at various points, were six photographers – Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban-Mattei, Edward Linsmier, Michael Mullady, Carlos Garcia Rawlins and Nathan Weber.

I’d like to state that I have no agenda here, I am simply interested in constructing the scene in a wider context. Photographers don’t work in a vacuum and we must demand to turn their images inside out to understand the context in which the images were created.

Mining the conditions of production is a position I have held consistently throughout my writing on Prison Photography. I am a great admirer of Errol Morris’ writings that demystify photography; it is in that spirit I am pursuing this inquiry.

Thanks to Melissa Lyttle for the note on Edward’s interview.

– – –

ALSO IN THE ‘PHOTOGRAPHING FABIENNE’ SERIES

Part One: Fabienne Cherisma (Initial inquiries, Jan Grarup, Olivier Laban Mattei)
Part Two: More on Fabienne Cherisma (Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Part Three: Furthermore on Fabienne Cherisma (Michael Mullady)

Part Five: Interview with Edward Linsmier
Part Six: Interview with Jan Grarup
Part Seven: Interview with Paul Hansen
Part Eight: Interview with Michael Winiarski
Part Nine: Interview with Nathan Weber
Part Ten: Interview with James Oatway
Part Eleven: Interview with Nick Kozak
Part Twelve: Two Months On (Winiarski/Hansen)
Reporter Rory Carroll Clarifies Some Details
Part Fourteen: Interview with Alon Skuy
Part Fifteen: Conclusions

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