Great Reads in Photography: April 4, 2021

Every Sunday, we bring together a collection of easy-reading articles from analytical to how-to to photo-features in no particular order that did not make our regular daily coverage. Enjoy!


Last March, a Photographer Chartered a Helicopter and Captured an Invisible Crisis – Los Angeles Magazine

Helicopter flight Friday, April 24th, 2020 over Disneyland, Downtown Los Angeles, and San Pedro during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park were shut down on March 14, 2020. As of Friday evening, over 50,000 Americans had died in the pandemic and there were approximately 40,000 cases in California. © Stuart Palley
Dozens of school buses in a parking lot southeast of downtown Los Angeles grounded after the COVID pandemic slammed into the Southland. This image, taken at sunset in early April 2020, was at the height of lockdown. © Stuart Palley

2-minute Sunday interview:

Phil Mistry: How did you move from Fire Photography to do these empty street shots?

Stuart Palley: Wildfire photography and documenting climate crisis issues is my primary focus, but I’m also interested in how humankind alters the landscape and our impact on it. In the Los Angeles area, our freeways, parking lots, and public spaces were all nearly deserted during the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. This provided an opportunity to look at the infrastructure devoid of its usual traffic, vehicles, and pedestrians. Turning my lens onto an unfolding pandemic felt like a way to turn anxiety into some semblance of documenting history.

PM: Did you actually charter a helicopter? What does that cost?

Stuart Palley: It was a combination of chartering a helicopter and using a licensed drone where airspace restrictions were allowed. The Los Angeles basin has some of the densest and complex airspace in the world, so I used the drone when I was able to obtain automated FAA clearance and the helicopter when I needed live ATC tower clearance. Business was slow, and the helicopter company was offering a special one-off rate for about $650/hour, which seemed like a lot (it is). However, for the speed and range of the Robinson R66 helicopter, it was a unique value that allowed me to rack up a couple of different flights.

Further, due to commercial air traffic dropping by over 75%, we could obtain tower clearance for flight plans that are usually somewhat difficult to get. It was one of those things where I felt the images would end up paying for themselves (they did).

PM: Which bodies and lenses did you use for this aerial photography?

SP: I used two Nikon D850 with grips, and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR, and a NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED AF-S VR with a Nikon AF-S TELECONVERTER TC-14E III or an AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G ED VR. That gave me a huge zoom range to work with, and I used the active image stabilization and high shutter speeds to help counter the helicopter’s vibration.

PM: Was this your first time doing aerial photography?

SP: No. I have done enough to know the basics. When every minute costs on a charter, you learn best practices and efficiency fast. You also have to be careful not to let cameras fly off in the wind slipstream.

Check out Stuart Palley’s
Long-Exposure Photos of California Wildfires at Night


These are the Pioneering Women of Photojournalism ­– CNN World

Photojournalism has traditionally been a male-dominated field. But throughout history, women have made their mark on the industry.

Yunghi Kim is one of them, and she wants to make sure her peers get the recognition they deserve. She took it upon herself to start a website, Trailblazers of Light, to honor these photojournalism pioneers. More than 500 photojournalists are listed on the site, going back to the late 19th century.

Ami Vitale © Robin Cox

Ami Vitale, a photographer for National Geographic magazine, wears a panda costume while documenting Chinese facilities dedicated to saving the species. It’s what the workers do there as well because they don’t want the bears to get too familiar with humans. Vitale has traveled to more than 100 countries during her career, bearing witness to not only violence and conflict but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. In recent years, she has shifted her focus to stories about wildlife and the environment.

“Storytelling and photography have the unique ability to transcend all languages and help us understand each other,” she tells CNN. “They remind us of our deep connection to all of life that we share this planet with.”

Frances Benjamin Johnston, Library of Congress

Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864 – 1952) is surrounded by children looking at her camera. Johnston was one of the first-ever female photojournalists, working for the Bain News Service founded in New York City in 1898. Her career spanned 60 years and included working in the White House for several administrations. She is also known for her photos of architecture, including historic buildings in the South.

Embed from Getty Images

Homai Vyarawalla (1913 – 2012), was India’s first woman photojournalist. She began work in the late 1930s and retired in the early 1970s.

At the onset of World War II, she started working on assignments for Mumbai-based The Illustrated Weekly of India magazine which published many of her most admired black-and-white images. In the early years of her career, since Vyarawalla was unknown and a woman, her photographs were published under her husband’s name. Vyarawalla stated that because women were not taken seriously as journalists, she was able to take high-quality, revealing photographs of her subjects without interference.


The Hidden Fingerprint Inside Your Photos ­– BBC

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Actually, there’s a great deal more hidden inside the modern digital image.

Embed from Getty Images


Charlie Phillips: Why Did it Take so Long for One of Britain’s Greatest Photographers to Get his Due? The Guardian

Embed from Getty Images

Charlie Phillips‘ photographs of Muhammad Ali and Jimi Hendrix sold around the world. Cartier-Bresson was a fan, while Fellini liked him so much, he put him in a film. Yet, in the UK, Phillip’s work was ignored for decades.

Phillips had immigrated to London from Jamaica when he was 12 years old. He came to acquire a Kodak Retinette camera that became Phillip’s passport to a career that took him across Europe as well as photographing London’s African-Caribbean community.

Showing his photographs [around 1974], to editors and galleries in London, “people would say: ‘Did you really take this?’ Nobody believed I took them. I used to get fobbed off all the time. I couldn’t get any assignments.” One gallery even had a photograph of Muhammad Ali, taken by Phillips, on the wall (taken in Zurich in 1971, during Ali’s bout with German champion Jürgen Blin; Phillips went on to meet Ali on numerous occasions) yet refused to believe Phillips was the photographer. “This is how absurd it was.” Did the fact that Phillips was Black have a bearing on his treatment? “I can’t comment on that,” he says. “I think that’s a question you should ask the institutions.” – The Guardian


Stunning Photos Show A Man In COVID-19 Isolation— 1 Minute at a Time HuffPost

My only two rules were that I had to set alarms for random minutes of each day, and I had to photograph the exact task I was doing when they went off. – Justin J. Wee, Photographer, community chef to HuffPost


Guide to Conceptual Photography ShotKit

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad

Conceptual photography is one of the more difficult genres to define because it can encompass such a wide range of subjects and styles.

The fact that conceptual photography is so creatively expansive and varied is also what makes it such a rewarding genre to get into.

  1. Catch the uncatchable
  2. Make it fantastical
  3. Give a well-worn cliché a unique twist
  4. Merge natural and human elements

Check the link above for 37 more tips and details.


Photographer Wanders NYC Streets to Reveal Neo-Noir Stories Hiding in Plain Sight My Modern Met

Photographer Nicolas Miller’s neo-noir images capture everyday life’s cinematic nature among the overpasses, high-rises, and neon signs. Miller’s pursuit of imperfect light and lonely urban corners produces images that invoke film-noir magic in the modern age.

© Nicolas Miller

A favorite theme of mine is scale. I love capturing isolated subjects walking in the big city. They showcase the small size of man versus gigantic human constructions. They also express the loneliness that many people feel despite living in big cities among millions of others. – Nicolas Miller to My Modern Met

© Nicolas Miller

Shisei Kuwabara: Minamata Disease, and the Poisoning of a TownBlind

For sixty years, Japanese photographer Shisei Kuwabara has been documenting the city of Minamata and those who suffer from the disease that bears its name.

Minamata disease is a neurological condition that results from severe mercury poisoning. It was caused by the release of industrial wastewater from a chemical factory in Minamata, Japan

Notable: W. Eugene Smith’s name is the first that comes up when Minamata mercury poising is mentioned. However, Smith first learned of Minamata poising when he was shown Kuwabara’s book Minamata Disease in New York by Japanese photographer Kazuhiko Motomura. He began photographing eleven years before Smith came to the city and has continued since.


The Most Amazing and Unusual Trees in the World in Pictures – Condé Nast Traveler

Whether fairytale-like dragons on an island in the Arabian Sea, butterfly-covered trunks in Mexico’s cloud forests, or skeletal branches pushing their way out of the ground in Namibia’s salt flats, trees are one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in our world. Here is a roundup of the most beautiful, found in all corners of the globe.

Joshua trees in the desert, Depositphotos.
Morondava, Madagascar, Aug 01, 2015. Evening at Baobab avenue. The Avenue of the Baobabs is a prominent group of baobab trees lining the dirt road between Morondava and Belo – Tsiribihina. Depositphotos
Thick Strangler tree roots grow over Ta Prohm temple ruins (built in 1186 AD) at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. Depositphotos
Argan tree with goats, Depositphotos

Check out
Landscape Photography Tips: How to Best Capture Trees and Forests


How one Photographer Shapes the Way the World Sees Joe Biden ­– CNN

Biden family dog Major sees a tennis ball next to President Joe Biden on the Resolute Desk Thursday, March 4, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) Sony a9 II, Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM, f/1.6, 1/500, 800 ISO

Photographer Shows how Mosul, Iraq is Returning to Normal After a War with ISIS – Daily Mail

Dutch photographer Thijs Broekkamp takes a day trip to Mosul, northern Iraq – and returns with an astonishing set of images that show how everyday life is slowly returning to a city pulverized by war with ISIS.

Broekkamp’s images show that while the war shattered Mosul and left its buildings scarred and ruined, its resilient people are breathing life back into the streets.

The keeper (above) of the Al-Saffar Mosque rests on a street corner.


Frank Relle on His Work, Photography Methods and his ‘Happy Place’

There’s something truly magical about the images of award-winning photographer Frank Relle, who was born and is based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Through his lens, trees, houses, and other familiar objects are transformed. His work can be found in private collections and prestigious museums. Relle speaks to CBS News about his journey, photography, and his “happy place.”

Lemeire © Frank Relle
Behind the Cypress © Frank Relle

I hunt for images that evoke the sublime entanglement of the human and the natural. –Frank Relle

Check out
New Orleans Nightscapes: Beautiful Long Exposure Photos of NOLA Houses


‘They’re Taking the Spotlight:’ Human-trafficking Survivors Pose for Portraits – The Columbus Dispatch

A portrait project by photographer Nick Fancher involving five human-trafficking survivors aims to change how victims of this ugly trade are perceived.

“In 2017, I began a photo series exploring trauma,” Fancher tells PetaPixel. “As a survivor myself, it was healing for me to connect with others who were on a similar journey.

“Leading up to a shoot, I’d have subjects send me several photos or a video that represented the period of trauma in their lives. When they arrived, we’d sit down and chat about their story for a while. Once they were ready, I’d load up their images into a slideshow, project the images onto them, and take their portrait.”

Mandie Matthews, a survivor of human trafficking, poses for a portrait. An image of a brick apartment complex where she experienced abuse is projected onto her face. © Nick Fancher

Each portrait by Fancher attempts to embody these women’s past, present, and future, with images from different points in their lives projected onto them as he clicks pictures in his studio.

Christina Johnson, a survivor of human trafficking. © Nick Fancher

Fancher shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and a Canon 85mm f/1.2L and used an Epson Powerlite 2250l projector. His lighting was a Godox AD200 strobe with a round head attachment.

The pieces are part of Fancher’s ongoing series that explores trauma and how to avoid being defined by it.

Check out
Here’s a Free 2-Hour Creative Portrait Lighting Workshop with Nick Fancher
How to Use a Projector as a Lighting Tool for Creative Portraits
Exquisite Geometry: A Wacom and Projector Photo Shoot
Randomizing Photo Shoots to Stretch My Creativity


Photo of the Week: Goats and Homework


Why I Like This Photo – Rick Friedman

© Rick Friedman, photo courtesy Newsweek

The Reagan Newsweek cover hangs over my desk along with some of my over 75 magazine and book covers.  I think that image was chosen as the cover, was because it was just the right moment shot from the right place.  Reagan has his thumb up and that big smile that says, “I won!”  and Mrs. Reagan leaning against the future president with a big smile.

© Keiko Hiromi

As Biden heads into his 100th day in office this month, I was thinking back on the presidential campaigns I have covered.  I started covering presidential politics when Jimmy Carter was running, and I have covered every campaign from Carter to Biden. Over the years, presidential campaign coverage has changed, even at the early pre-primary events. Campaign events are much more tightly controlled and staged. Pre-approved credentials for the media are required for most events.

When I covered Carter, I was just starting as a freelancer working for United Press International. The concept that I was assigned to photograph someone who might become U.S. President was amazing to me.

By the time Ronald Reagan was running against George H.W. Bush for the Republican nomination, I was working with the great photo agency, Black Star, and was shooting assignments for Newsweek.

On New Hampshire primary night, February 26, 1980, I was assigned by Newsweek to cover the George H.W. Bush campaign. I photographed the presidential contender in his hotel room and addressing supporters in Manchester, NH after which it was announced that Ronald Reagan had won the New Hampshire primary. The candidate I was covering had come in second.

I had finished my assignment in Manchester, NH, and Reagan would address supporters in Concord, NH, about 18 miles north.  I thought if I drove fast enough and didn’t slide off the slippery roads, I might make it in time to photograph Ronald Reagan giving his victory speech. I arrived at the hotel, dumped my car in a snowbank, grabbed my cameras, and ran into the hotel ballroom.

There was no security at the door, and you did not need a press credential to get in. This would not happen today. Covering a primary election night today, you would have to apply for credentials several days in advance, arrive hours before the event and clear security. — Rick Friedman

I worked my way through the crowd heading for the front of the room. Saying “excuse me” to a lot of people as I moved past them. I made it to the center of the third row. There were two rows of photographers in front of me. I asked the photographers in front of me, friends of mine, to please lean a bit left or a bit right, and maybe I could get a lens down the middle. Governor Reagan with his wife Nancy Reagan came out a few minutes later to give his speech. I knew I had a photograph. I also knew Newsweek had another photographer assigned to cover Reagan.

That was late on a Tuesday night. I went back to the hotel and called the courier service to send someone to pick up my film of both Bush & Reagan. The magazine needed the photographs on Wednesday, and the film had to be developed.

There was a saying in the magazine photography business, “no news, is good news.” They only called when you messed up or had a cover. No news Wednesday and most of Thursday. Thursday afternoon, about 5 PM, I’m in my studio in Boston, and I get a phone call from Howard Chapnick, the owner of Black Star and the person who taught me how to be a magazine photojournalist. I owe so much of my career to his guidance.

I answer the phone, and Howard says, “So how does it feel to have your first Newsweek cover?” To which I replied, how would I know? I think it took him about 20 minutes to convince me my photograph would be the next cover of Newsweek.

Back when I started at UPI, I was taught, the most important thing in a story is to be there and in the right spot. I shot the photo with a Canon AE-1 on Kodak Ektachrome, ISO 160 tungsten slide film as a horizontal frame. Newsweek cropped the photograph to make it fit the cover. That was the first of many magazine covers.

Rick Friedman has been a photojournalist for over four decades. Friedman has photographed every U.S. presidential candidate from President Jimmy Carter to Joe Biden. Friedman’s published work has appeared in Time, National Geographic, Newsweek, The New York Times, Nature, USA Today, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Stern, Discover, and many other publications. Rick has been teaching his Location Lighting Workshops™ for the past 16 years across the US, UK, Canada, and the UAE. 


Quote of the Week (or a previous week):  Eric Kim

Boy, Miyagi, Japan, 1973. © Daido Moriyama

Daido Moriyama’s photo is courtesy of Phaidon Press from the book Daido Moriyama (page 73).

“The biggest innovation of photographers such as William Klein and Daido Moriyama was rejecting this notion that photos had to be sharp and in focus.” — Eric Kim

 


To see an archive of past issues of Great Reads in Photography, click here.


We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.


About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.


Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies.