Monday, May 27, 2013

Photography Week in Review - May 20-26

It's hard to believe that it's time for another photography week in review.  I don't have as much to report on this week, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a busy week.  In fact, there was a story that generated a great deal of debate within the photography community this week.  So, here's the photography week in review for May 20-26.

Yahoo Makes Two Big Announcements
Monday started off with a bang when Yahoo announced that it had agreed to purchase the young startup blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion.  Tumblr is a popular blog platform with over 100 million users and little revenue.  The demographic sways towards the younger generation and the platform focuses more on visual content; it's almost as if the users are curating content that they put on display to the world.  It will be interesting to see how this deal shakes out; how Yahoo will use the service to generate revenue and if the platform can continue to gain traction without losing it's current user base.  There is art and photographic content that factors into Tumblr; however, that's not the announcement that stirred up photographers around the globe.  In a press conference late Monday, Yahoo unveiled a complete redesign of Flickr.  

Yahoo acquired Flickr in 2005 but devoted very little resources towards further development.  It was if time stopped moving for Flickr; while other platforms continually updated and made changes to stay competitive, Flickr made very little changes.  The user interface was plain; white background and heavy on text.  The new update, which greeted a multitude of unexpected users Monday evening, was not the "coming out" party that Yahoo was hoping for.  Users flocked to the help forum to tell Yahoo how unhappy they were.  Over on Twitter and Facebook, where I follow a number of photographers, concerns and feedback were rampant the majority of the week.  Change is usually hard to accept, but it's easier when it's the right thing to do.  Yahoo didn't make all of the right moves with the Flickr roll out.  Flickr is a social network; but it's a social network for a large group of photographers.  The white background allowed the user to focus on the art; the new look floods the screen with photographs and it can be quite overwhelming and chaotic.  Additionally, information about the photograph (tags, exposure details, descriptions, etc.) are lost in the new design.  Individual photo streams are not as personalized as before and changes to the Pro account were also cause for concern.  It didn't make matters any better when Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO, made a statement regarding the Flickr Pro account that upset a number of photographers:

"There’s no such thing as Flickr Pro today because [with so many people taking photographs] there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”

Needless to say, Mayer backtracked later in the week and said the statement was taken out of context.  In terms of numbers, the professional photography crowd as well as the serious amateurs, make up a small population; however, they are highly active on Flickr and it's not a wise decision to alienate them in the manner that Mayer did.  There are other services out there that could benefit from the "new" Flickr.  The additional space for users is nice, but I'm not a fan of the user interface changes.  The active groups and communities are what make Flickr so great, so I'm not sure I'll be leaving any time soon.  Time will tell if this move was for the better or for the worse.  Read about the changes here and feel free to comment on how you feel about Flickr's new look.
Freestyle Updates Website
Another photographic company updated it's website this week, but to much less fan fare and complaints.  Freestyle is a photographic supply company that has been servicing the photographic community with tools of the trade since 1946.  They are based in Los Angeles and are dedicated to stocking traditional photographic materials in addition to newer digital and hybrid items.  They updated their website this week with a new interface that's much more attractive in addition to being more customer friendly.  It's a great new look for a great company.  Stop by, say hi and purchase some film (or loads of other things) here
Pdexposures Releases Podcast Episode #10
Photographic accessories are one of the many things you can purchase at the new Freestyle website and it just so happens that Nate, Tony and Simon released their tenth podcast in which they focus on photographic accessories.  They banter in their usual manner and of course fit a mention of Leica in at every chance they get.  It's a fun episode and I think the guys are really starting to hit a groove.  Give it a listen here.
120 Film Cases!
Bellamy Hunt, also known as Japan Camera Hunter, lives in Tokyo and sources cameras and other photographic gear to customers around the world.  In addition to this amazing service, he also runs a blog filled with great articles and fantastic artist profiles.  He has a long running feature entitled "In Your Bag," in which photographers send in pictures and descriptions of their photo bags.  He created these great 35mm film carrying cases and he just released the final prototype for a 120 film case due to come out in June.  Check it out on the Facebook page and visit his great site here.
Instant Film Society Print and Negative Holders
While we're on the subject of photographic organization, I came across another wonderful item this week.  The Instant Film Society, a group based in Texas dedicated to the use and promotion of instant film, have a wonderful invention for sale.  Anyone that's shot pack film/peel-apart film in the field knows how difficult it can be to keep your prints and negatives dry, free of dust and flat.  Instant shooters fear no more.  The Instant Film Society created a handy drying box for prints and negatives that they're offering them for sale for a small fee.  If you shoot a Polaroid Land camera or you use pack film in a medium or large format back, I highly suggest picking up one of these nifty, little, drying boxes.  Pick one up here.
Snap It! See It! Giveaway
Continuing on with instant film goodness, the site dedicated to the love of instant film just launched a very special giveaway.  Thanks to the kind individuals at The Impossible Project, Snap It! See It! is giving away a silver Polaroid SX-70 Sonar kit (with a PX Shade and some film).  It's very easy to enter the giveaway, so head over to the site and find all the details here.

Wayne F. Miller (1918-2013)
Wayne F. Miller passed away on May 22, 2013.  Miller served in the Navy during World War II and was chosen by Edward Steichen to be part of a special unit designed to document the war.  He was one of the first individuals to capture images of post atomic bomb Hiroshima.  After returning to Chicago, he created his most well known series "The Way of the Northern Negro," which is now held in multiple museums.  He joined Magnum Photos in 1958 and served as President from 1962-66.  During this period, he strived to "photograph mankind and explain man to man."  Learn more about Wayne F. Miller here.

Petapixel Article on the Decisive Moment
Earlier this week the site Petapixel posted an article on how the decisive moment in photography was dead and the constant moment is and will continue to be the future of photography.  The article begins by talking about the master of the decisive moment, Henri Cartier-Bresson.  The author goes on to discuss the creation of art as the curation of time and delves into a discussion of technology and the future of photography.  You can read the full article here, but the author is concluding that in the not too distant future there will no longer be the need for the decisive moment or for the photographer to actually be present for the moment he or she is capturing.  Needless to say, I do not agree with the author's insights.  What the author is clearly missing is the human element of photography. So much of what we photography is not necessarily the decisive moment as it is a personal or emotional moment that connects the photographer to the subject.  If Alfred Stieglitz had the technology that is referenced in the article, the images of Georgia O'Keefe would almost certainly not be as emotional, complex and as amazing as they are today.  They had a connection and a way of working together that could never be replaced by technology.  What about the uncovered street photography of Vivian Maier?  Would she have been able to pick out the exact images that she captured using drone technology?  So much of photography is about being in the moment and capturing what you feel and witness. To remove yourself from the equation creates a disconnect; watching a historic event unfold on television is not the same as watching it unfold in person.  Technology can be wonderful and has done so much for the photographic industry, but let's not forget what has been behind every technological breakthrough in the industry - a human eye behind the viewfinder capturing the beauty that is before them.

For Ohioans
The Dayton Art Institute is holding an alternative photographic processes workshop June 3-5.  The workshop is being taught by Richard Jurus, Director of Photographic and Digital Studies at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.  The workshop will focus on three different printing processes:  Cyanotype, Vandyke Brown and Platinum/Palladium.  The workshop is composed of three, daily, five hour sessions.  Cost of the workshop is $200 for non-members and $175 for members.  Hurry, because registration ends today, May 27.  Learn more here.   

That's it for this week.  Happy Memorial Day!  Get out there and shoot and feel free to comment on any of the items discussed this week.

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