Archivi categoria: controversial

Ren Hang, Famed and Controversial Chinese Photographer, Dead at Age 29

The art of photography lost one of its most influential and controversial voices today. Ren Hang, a renowned and oft-censored Chinese photographer whose work has been displayed around the world, died this week. He was 29 years old.

Ren’s subversive nude photography—racy and provocative images of friends, and later fans, captured mostly in his high-rise apartment in Beijing—earned him recognition around the globe, but only censorship and several arrests at home in China. He was hailed by many as one of the greatest photographers of our time, and China’s answer to Ryan McGinley.

“Ren is a poet and photographer,” the Klein Sun Gallery wrote, describing Ren in a release for a solo show in May of 2016. “Splicing imagery of urban and rural environments as a metaphor for the increasingly citified millennials of today, he arranges the naked limbs of his friends in his hide-and-seek photographs.”

Ren’s death was confirmed last night by a representative of the gallery, although the details are still shrouded in mystery. The young photographer chronicled his struggle with depression on his website, and his last post on the Chinese social media site Weibo has led many to speculate that Ren took his own life.

Posted last month on the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year, it reads: “Every year, the wish I make is the same: to die earlier.”

No matter the circumstances of his death, one thing is certain: Ren Hang was an incredibly talented and brave photographer, poet, and artist, who passed away far too early. May he rest in peace.

Fetishizing an Entire Culture Through Photography

In September 2016, Vogue España featured Kendall Jenner in a ballet-themed photo shoot. The ballet community was up in arms over the “ballet appropriation” and disregard for the years of training that goes into being a ballet dancer. Jenner responded by explaining that “ I didn’t even know I was going to be a ballerina until I went into hair and makeup.”

Spanish Vogue by @miguelreveriego

A post shared by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

Fashion photography has always had an element of the fantastical and aspirational. Fashion itself tends to be very appropriative. Case in point: Kellyanne Conway’s Gucci-designed Inauguration outfit. No offense to professional dancers, but this was much ado about nothing.

Ado About Something

For Vogue’s March issue – ironically their “diversity” issue – model Karli Kloss was photographed by Swedish photographer Mikael Jansson in a piece called “Spirited Away,” an allusion to Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animation. My newsfeed was dotted with cries of cultural appropriation. I didn’t understand the fuss because the first image I saw looked lovely.

A white model wearing a kimono is no different than a non-Indian wearing a Nehru collar. They are pieces of clothing that have been adopted into individuals’ wardrobes.

But upon closer inspection of the essay, it was clear that Kloss was made up as a geisha (and referred to as a geisha in the essay) – a deeply misunderstood role in historical Japan that most westerners incorrectly equate with a prostitute.

So the blonde Chicagoan donned a black wig and was styled with make-up to make her appear asian while playing the role of a sexualized exotic. Let’s not forget using an asian man as a prop – it’s gotta be a sumo wrestler or a ninja, right? This isn’t the case where a model pretends to be a ballerina, mermaid, or construction worker. This is using photography to reinforce a detrimental narrative. And for what? To sell clothes and perfume. (Kloss did apologize.)

We can’t eschew nuance and claim that this is no different than the Jenner case. It’s a false equivalent because as a professor friend of mine pointed out, “We continue to reinforce the narrative of otherness (e.g., Asian women as exotic geisha dolls, black youths as overly sexual thugs) that then feeds into the systemic racial inequality that pervades US society. These are not isolated examples, but have a long and tenacious history.”

I’ve been traveling in Tokyo for the past two weeks. In a city of 13 million people, I’ve seen two women in kimonos and two sumo wrestlers on bicycles. Photographers wield the power to depict people and cultures in ways that either reinforce or dispel stereotypes. Use it wisely.

(If you really want to photograph geishas, then pursue the project on your dime, fight for access, and be one of the few people to ever photograph them behind the scenes.)

About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter, which regularly publishes resources for photographers. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article was also published here.

Trump Immigration Ban Causing Issues for World Press Photo and ICP

A controversial executive order signed last week by President Trump is causing problems for multiple photography institutions in the US. World Press Photo has been forced to replace a judge last-minute, and a photographer scheduled to speak at the International Center of Photography has been denied entry into the country.

The controversial “immigration ban” signed by President Trump on Friday has caused a furor across the country, as many have come out in protest while others maintain Trump is simply following through on one of the campaign promises that got him elected. That order’s impact has now extended into the world of photography.

In a statement published yesterday, the World Press Photo organization announced a “forced change” to the 2017 contest jury because one of their judges fears she won’t be let back into the country if she travels to Amsterdam to judge the competition. Eman Mohammed, a Palestinian and U.S. permanent resident, explained in a Facebook post that her lawyer has advised her not to leave the country for fear she might not be let back in.

Her daughters, both U.S. citizens, would be left to fend for themselves if for any reason she was to be detained at the border and denied entry.

World Press Photo is not the only organization to feel the sting of the Trump order. The International Center of Photography (ICP) adjunct curator Joanna Lehan announced Saturday that Syrian refugee Thair Orfahli’s visa appointment “was canceled without comment” after the order was signed.

Orfahli was supposed to join a March 8th panel discussion at the ICP about the center’s new “Perpetual Revolution” exhibit. His selfies and social media posts—captured and created as he fled to Europe from Syria—are part of the exhibition. “This is only one of thousands of stories we are about to hear, and admittedly not the most dire,” wrote Lehan. “Still, I’m devastated, and so embarrassed for our country.”

(via PDN)

Image credits: Photograph by Caleb Smith; Office of the Speaker of the House.

The Photographer Behind This Photo is Being Taken to Court by Child Services

An intimate photograph of a father cradling his sick child in the shower has become the subject of a legal battle with the Arizona Department of Child Safety. If the DCS succeeds, photographer Heather Whitten, the child’s mother, will be convicted of “neglect” for posting the photo.

The photograph, which was taken in November of 2014, first made headlines in May of 2016 after Facebook repeatedly removed the viral image. The photo shows Whitten’s husband Thomas cradling their then-one-year-old son Fox in a cold shower. Fox had salmonella poisoning, and was suffering from both a high fever and diarrhea.

In May, our story was about how Facebook had censored the controversial image, but someone who saw the photo actually filed a complaint with the local authorities. The police said straight away that they would not bring any charges against the Whittens; however, Heather claims an investigator from the DCS took a very strong and negative interest in their case despite not having any real substantial claims against them.

“The only claim she was able to suggest be substantiated against me [and me alone] was that I neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm,” says Whitten. “This goes against Arizona’s very definition of neglect and encroaches on my right as an artist to share my work with the public.”

If the claim is substantiated, Whitten will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years, marking the end of her ability to adopt, foster, or even work with children as a photographer.

There is currently a petition with over 16,000 signatures in support of Whitten, and her day in court is coming up. The next step in the legal process—namely: whether or not the case will be thrown out—will be determined at an administrative hearing on February 3rd.

To support Heather or find out more about her story, click here.

Image credits: Photograph by Heather Whitten and used with permission.

Eyefi To Brick Its Older Wi-Fi Cards, And Photographers Aren’t Happy


If you’re a photographer shooting with Eyefi’s older generation Wi-Fi memory cards, here’s something you should know: your card will soon become more or less useless.

Just days after announcing that it had sold its cloud services to Ricoh, Eyefi sent out an email to customers this week, informing them that older X1 and X2 cards — everything prior to the new Mobi line — now have an “End of Life” date of September 16th, 2016.

This news may be particularly frustrating for photographers who purchased an Eyefi memory card not too long ago.

“Eye-Fi began phasing out sales of the X2 product line in 2012,” Eyefi explains in an FAQ on its site. “The last version produced by the company were sold through authorized channels in the United States in March, 2015.”

So if you purchased an X2 card more recently than March 2015, you probably got it through an unauthorized seller.


After September 16th, you will no longer be able to create an Eyefi Center account, which was required by X1 and X2 cards.

Certain functions of your X2 card, such as Direct Mode, may continue to function beyond the End of Life date, but you’ll need to set it up prior to that date. Selective Transfer will also function if enabled early, but Relayed Transfer will cease to function.

The Eyefi software used by older cards will also no longer be updated or supported, so there’s absolutely no guarantee that critical features will continue to work into the future.

It’s rather unusual for products such as Wi-Fi cards to be bricked completely by the manufacturer, and some photographers are understandably upset about the news. One frustrated customer published an open letter to Eyefi on Hacker News.

“Receiving your email about removing support for X2 cards this morning has made me furious,” the author writes. “That your company would have the gall to sell cards that would be obsolete within a few years is preposterous.”

“I would have updated to the Mobi cards in time anyway, but out of principle I will avoid Eye-Fi products in the future and advise my photographing friends to do the same. Shame on your company.”

Eyefi says the reason for the End of Life is that older wireless and encryption technologies are no longer safe and appropriate, so they’re dropping support and forcing photographers to move to its newer products with newer technologies.

For photographers wishing to switch to newer Eyefi Mobi cards, Eyefi is offering a 20% discount for up to 3 units. However, we’re guessing that many customers will now be thinking twice before jumping into the new Eyefi generation.