Tikkun Olam or Repairing the World

A pioneer in photographing the South Side of Chicago died last week. Wayne Forest Miller returned from his stint as a naval photographer in World War II and spent three years photographing blacks on the South Side in the wake of the Great Migration. According to a NY Times article (http://tinyurl.com/mwbu4sy), Mr. Miller photographed his subjects as people rather than objects, identifying by name whenever possible. The images began as a project titled The Way of Life of the Northern Negro and later became a book titled “Chicago’s South Side: 1946-1948,” a published in 2000 and still available http://tinyurl.com/m92x2ja. He was also a member and past president of Magnum Photos where his images are still available. 

Two photographers are also trying to bring visuals to the situations, offering images of the people affected by the on-going violence. Jon Lownestein has been chronicling Chicago’s South Side for the past ten years but he decided to focus on gun violence with a project called Chicago’s Bloody Year (http://noorimages.com/feature/chicagos-bloody-year/). The images range from memorials on street corners to cops on patrol to the people left behind to mourn family and friends killed in the ongoing violence. In an interview with Art Beat reporter Ray Suarez, Lowenstein talked about his desire to have his photographs reflect on both the greatness of the community as well as the heartbreak saying that he hoped we can make the world a little better.

Carlos Ortiz, a Chicago native, has spent the last six years taking more than 20,000 photographs of the aftermath of gang violence with many of the images included in his project “Too Young to Die.” (http://tooyoungtodieproject.org/) Ortiz states that the purpose of his project is to move beyond the sensationalism and if it bleeds it leads headlines, in order to create understanding of the victims of violence, as well as the costs to all of us in Chicago.

I also want to mention Daniel Shea whose work I accidently discovered while trying to find one of the blogs above. In an online publication called The Fader, Shea’s interview and photographic essay (http://tinyurl.com/lyfmez5) made me consider how many individuals are trying to do something to bring change to Chicago. Shea’s own words ring prophetically “Right now in Chicago is not a good time. A lot of the young people call it Chiraq. Innocent people are dying. For the general public, it’s easy to just say, “Chicago is violent. We need to stop getting guns in the hands of violent people, we need to lock people up.” I wish people would be more open to thinking about the complexity of the violence.” 

In another story on The Fader(http://tinyurl.com/mcrettr), author and journalist Alex Kotlowitz commented “There are reasons why people are shooting each other that have nothing to do with availability of guns, and everything to do with growing up in incredible distress and despair. There are kids who have no sense of a future, and that speaks volumes to how we completely abandon those on the very bottom.”

So as summer begins, consider the importance of Tikkun Olam or Repairing the World. The power of photography can move us to tears but it should also move us to action.

 

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One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor

ASPP Full LogoThis time of the year is difficult for me; winter seems endless, the groundhog’s predication notwithstanding. I find the news, from Public Radio, an endless tale of death, destruction and doom.

Adding even more to my generally dismal view was an announcement of a photo show at Roosevelt University’s Gage Gallery. Titled “Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out,” it opened Feb. 7 and will run through May 4. I opened up the announcement and, after reading it and several other web pages, was sorry I had missed hearing the photographer, Edmund Clark, speak.

The images, taken in several locations in the detainee camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, show no people; instead beds, chains, cells and gear speak for the men who have been imprisoned there. The show also displays copies of letters sent but never received by one detainee. The book, titled Guantanamo: if the light goes out, won Best Photographic Book at 2011 New York Photo Awards.

As you read this you may now feel as though you have been drawn into my seasonal depression but I laughed out loud when I read the caption of one photo. It read:

Welcome to Guantanamo Inn: single bed, ocean views available, extended stays welcomed, special suites for 18 and under, meals included, group rates available (paid by the American tax dollars). Don’t forget to ask management about the daily and weekly interview and interrogation specials. “Frequent Fliers” points also available. Plenty of vacancy-current occupancy: approximately 174

YVONNE R. BRADLEY, former military defense counsel of released detainee.

I realized that everything is a matter of perspective. One person’s dread of winter is another’s season of glorious skiing. A farmer, interviewed on the radio several days ago, was overjoyed at the continual snow fall, sleet and rain as he anticipated an end to last summer’s drought.

Doug Brooks, photographer, educator and board member, sent me the following internet meme which says it all.

Craigslist Ad: We are a small and casual restaurant downtown and need to find a photographer to help us create our menu and advertising to promote their talent and work. This is not a job but more of an exchange to build your portfolio. Are you interested to promote your work? Please reply back ASAP.

Photographer’s Reply: I am photographer looking for a restaurateur to come to my house to promote his/her restaurant by making dinner for me and my friends. This is not a job; it is an occasional event which will help you build your restaurant business if my friends like your cooking. Are you interested in promoting your restaurant? Please reply ASAP.

It is all a matter of perspective on how you see the world. Spring is on its way. Find us at http://www.facebook.com/ASPP.National or connect to National at www.aspp.com.

The Way We Were

ASPP Full LogoIt’s a new year; while all of the old problems have not been solved, here are a few thoughts about what the future holds.

In November of 2012, after a 20 year fight, Canadian photographers’ work will now be treated the same as novels, paintings and music, where the author/photographer owns and enjoys copyright protection, rather than the old law which allowed the commissioner of the photograph, or first owner of the photograph, to enjoy copyright protection. The Copyright Modernization Act states, among other items, that only individual human beings (rather than corporations) can be the author of a photograph (consider our recent Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people) and that photographs are now protected by the same term of copyright as all other works, the life of the author plus fifty years. (http://www.entertainmentmedialawsignal.com/tags/bill-c11/ )

Kodak, in another move to survive, has agreed to license rights to make Kodak-branded cameras to JK Imaging, a subsidiary of global supplier JA Capital Holdings. This follows the sale of over 1000 digital imaging patents in December. After hearing this on the radio, a post appeared from my Huffington Post feed that made it clear that the world that Kodak helped create is changing.

Richard Newton, referencing Kodak, writes about the remarkable change of perception about the permanency of photography. Now I have mourned or moaned more than once about the fact that our images are now stored as data on devices that find ways of disappearing or committing suicide without even leaving a note, lost in a cab or dropped in the lake. Earlier in 2012, Wired reporter Mat Honan lost irreplaceable photos of his newborn daughter when a hacker wiped out his digital devices. His take away was that pictures should be stored in the internet “cloud” or backed up as well as encrypted.

Newton goes a step further to suggest that the immediacy of photography has made it a conversation rather than a method for preserving memories. We talk through images about where we are, what we are doing and who we are with. While he does not believe that we will not ever stop preserving the important moments of our lives, he suggests that the spoken word has become the permanent record, from Skype to the ever present voice which reminds us that “this call may be recorded for training purposes” with every call we make to a company while photographs effortlessly and somewhat carelessly come and go. (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/richard-newton/how-photographs-became-word-of-mouth_b_2401670.html)

Years ago I took a class on Material Culture, which looks at a given society at a given time through studying the ephemera, items not designed or intended to be saved for a long time. These items include everything from ticket stubs and invitations to matchbooks and political buttons. Photography was held as being outside the category, somehow sacrosanct and meant to be treated with respect. Now the possibility exists that digital images will disappear and not even be available for future generations to study who we were.

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The Wonder of It All

I love photography in all of its forms and for so many reasons. Technological developments allow everyone to more easily capture images, share them on-line, and generally paper the digital universe with imagery, but I sometimes miss the printed image, whether hung in a gallery, taped to the refrigerator or printed on the paper pages of a book.

This is my quick list of what I have admired in the last few weeks, by no means a complete list, but rather two or three items to remind us why we love photography and research.

The first must see are two books, one a shameless promotion for a dear friend and the other filled with photographers whose work runs the gamut of commercial to fine art. If I cannot convince you to buy copies, at the very least follow the links and page through them.

Have Courage, Work Hard is a collection of quotations on business, management, and life from women who were managers, executives and entrepreneurs before the women’s movement in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Mary Goljenboom has studied historical businesswomen for years and, in this book, presents the reader with fabulous quotes as well as far too brief biographies and images of these astounding women. (https://www.createspace.com/3896258 and, of course, http://www.amazon.com/Have-Courage-Work-Hard-Quotations/dp/0970357613)

While the first book is text driven, my second, GO DO GOOD, is all about the photographs, though the prose provides a thoughtful accompaniment to the images. Patty Carroll worked with the Chicago Photography Collective to pictorially highlight projects ranging from Inspiration Café to Deborah’s Place by photographers including Eric Futran, Ron Seymour and Paul Natkin, to name but a few. Go to http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2276963 and buy this book!

The final must see combines a show running at the Chicago History Museum and a book by the ever prolific researcher/author Rick Cahan and Michael Williams. These are both about the extraordinary work and life of Vivian Maier. The book, titled Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadowsbrings more context to her life, in addition to showcasing over 270 of her photographs. You can purchase this book at amazon.com, or through a number of local booksellers, including After-Words New and Used Books at 23 East Illinois Street, who are hosting author events and also selling the volume also. Her images will be on display at the Chicago History Museum through the summer of 2013.

 Nickolas Muray, who produced some of the best portraits of Frida Kahlo, reportedly said “Photography, fortunately, to me has not only been a profession but also a contact between people – to understand human nature and record, if possible, the best in each individual.”

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Express Yourself

The Copyright Office is asking for comments on the next steps to be taken regarding orphan works no later than 5:00 pm January 4, 2013 EST. The Copyright Office has determined that the uncertainty surrounding the ownership status of orphan works has been increased due to decisions by US and foreign courts in cases regarding the mass digitization of books and photographs. These include the Hathitrust Digital Library dispute (Authors Guild Inc. v. Hathitrust), a plan by a group of libraries to digitize orphan works in order to make them accessible to the public, as well as a recent ruling by The European Union’s Council of Ministers backing new laws regarding the digitization of orphaned works.

Works are considered to be orphaned when the copyright holders cannot be identified and/or contacted by parties seeking to use those works. While any creative work may become orphaned, the Copyright Office acknowledges that the largest share of disputed works involves photographs, in part because the information identifying the copyright holder can easily become separated from image.

Input is needed in order to establish standards for permitting the use of a work by an individual who has conducted a “reasonable, good faith, diligent” search but still has not been able to locate the copyright holder in order to obtain authorization or permission to use the material.

The EU recently established its own guidelines for member countries outlining the process and procedure for allowing libraries, museums and universities, among others, to digitize orphaned works in their collections. There will a single online database established listing the details of the work, and the diligent search results. If a copyright holder claims ownership for work that has been digitized, they would be entitled to compensation “taking into account the non-commercial use of the work made by the institution” according to the Council of Ministers. In the United Kingdom, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) acknowledged the difficulty of establishing criteria for a diligent search as standards can vary widely from one creative sector to another.

The Copyright Office is also seeking public input regarding the Google Books situation especially where the topic of orphan works and mass digitization intersect. They are especially interested in concrete suggestions on how and when this should be permitted based on existing legal standards. Comments may be offered on either of two topics. Go to www.copyright.gov/orphan to express your concerns or offer an opinion.

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Haunting Copyright Infringements

Jane Kinne’s ghost haunts my life. The ghost is, as Jean was, small and persistent, constantly pushing me to read and follow every copyright case that involves photography. In case you do not have a friendly ghost to urge you into following copyright infringement cases and court decisions, here’s brief guide of what is going on.

Next time a client or uneducated friend mistakenly says “what’s the worst that could happen if I use a photograph without permission?” remind them that people go to jail. This month an Everett, WA man was sentenced to over 3 years in prison for 2 counts of criminal copyright infringement.  Okay, to be honest, it wasn’t photography; Sang Jin Kim operated websites which distributed pirated copies of movies, T.V. shows, software and videos via paid internet download. His company knowingly posted material for download on their websites, without making any attempt to obtain rights to the materials.

Facebook has decided to take serious action regarding copyright infringement of photography on its site. Rather than starting with individuals, they took action against The Cool Hunter, a popular trend hunting site with over 780,000 users, by instantly and permanently removing their pages from the site. The founder of The Cool Hunter responded with the time worn arguments that everyone is doing it and we do give photographers credit if they alert us to the fact that their photograph is unattributed. While I understand that this is a toy pail against an ocean of misuse, I applaud each and every effort to make users aware that sharing images that are not yours can also be construed as copyright infringement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, on behalf of the photographer Kristina Hill, and the subjects, Tom Privitere and Brian Edwards, filed a federal law suit against Public Advocate for alleged copyright violation and the use of Privitere and Edwards’ likenesses without permission. The suit stems from a photo of the couple which was allegedly lifted from their blog, manipulated in Photoshop, only to appear on a mailer targeting legislative candidates in Colorado. While the suit has received attention from the communities that support gay marriage, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that this is a copyright infringement case through and through.

And cast as Don Quixote tilting at windmills, photographer Sabine Liewald filed suit in the US District Court for Southern New York against Apple for copyright infringement of her photo Eye Closeup. She is asking for actual damages including Apple’s profits as well as statutory damages for the infringing use of the photograph. Some blogs have suggested, that with its deep pockets, Apple is a foe that she cannot win against, but I applaud her for going forward no matter what.

And for those that have watched the progress of the seven year legal fight over Google’s book scanning program; earlier this month U.S. publishers dropped their suit against Google after receiving a token settlement. Unsettled, but on hold pending a procedural appeal, is a similar lawsuit brought by the Author’s Guild. Court watchers suggest that the Author’s Guild’s recent loss of its infringement case against HathiTrust, a digital preservation effort created by a collective of research libraries may also signal an end of its suit against Google. Federal judge Harold Baer rejected the three major arguments made by the Author’s Guild against HathiTrust including that the program’s mass digitization was unprecedented under fair use; that the it exposed authors works to security risks; and that it deprived authors of a potential licensing opportunities.

 It is nice to know that the battle to hold the ground against copyright infringement is still going on.

Doing the Impossible

A couple of years ago I signed up on-line survey site. I like this site because every second or third survey is political in nature and I want my voice to be added to the reportage of American public thought processes. I realize, of course, that I am a six ounce paper cup standing in front of the Pacific Ocean but I would rather do something than nothing at all.

In line with doing something, ASPP is looking at ways to attract new members as well as prove its relevancy and worth to existing members. Doug Brooks created the first of what hopefully will be many networking events last week on September 13th in Evanston. He hopes of see even more of our area members at the November networking event (details forthcoming). He reported the following:

 A band of intrepid ASPP members and guests converged last evening to share stories, ideas, appetizers and beverages of choice as the ASPP Chicago area fall season kicked off with a successful and fun networking event.

 Represented industries included publishing, photography, illustration, stock, image research and web development. Christopher Beauchamp, former mid-west board member, who recently returned to Illinois, graced us with his presence, as did ASMP President Ron Gould. 

 The mix of talent in the room created a fun atmosphere and lively conversation. While one-on-one and small group discussions took place the most ironic discovery was that member Todd Bannor (http://bannorbannor.com/) and ASMP (http://www.chimwasmp.org/ ) President Ron Gould are each official event photographers for the Romney / Obama campaigns. They each had interesting views on campaigns, shared no personal politics but did discuss contract details they have each had to deal with. As always, we stayed beyond our scheduled time to everyone’s satisfaction.

Meanwhile, in one of the key swing states, Mandy Groszko is hard at work on a program titled Small Business; Starting Maintaining Growing for Thursday, September 20 from 5-8 p.m. at 2294 Scioto Harper Dr Columbus OH. The speaker is Scott Van Buren founder of Folio Designhaus (http://www.foliodesignhaus.com/). Before starting Folio, he worked as the Creative Director of Antioch Publishing and as the Senior Designer for the Mazer Corporation. Folio designs logos/identity, packaging, web sites, marketing campaigns, and products, as well as educational and marketing books. For additional information, email Mandy at mandy.groszko@cengage.com.

One of the pleasures in life is doing what people say you can’t do. So grab your cup and head down to the sea or over to the bar. Network with people who also want to be doing something because as Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”