Archivi categoria: controversy

Demotix Photographers Still Waiting a Year After Corbis Sold to VCG

After Bill Gates sold Corbis Images to Visual China Group (VCG) back in January 2016, the citizen journalism photo agency Demotix (which Corbis bought in 2012) suddenly went dark. Now, after over a year has passed since the Corbis sale, some Demotix contributors have finally received an email from VCG… with few happy answers.

Back in late January 2016, after the Corbis sale was announced, the Demotix website began redirecting to the Corbis website. A few days later, Demotix Tweeted about the sale of its parent company and said that VCG would communicate with Demotix photographers “as soon as possible”:

As the days, weeks, and months went by, many Demotix photographers became increasingly frustrated about the lack of communication regarding their owed payments and their photo archives.

Finally, earlier this week, Demotix photographers received an email from VCG with an attached PDF containing answers to frequently asked questions.

“With respect to the transition matter of Corbis/Demotix to VCG, in order to help you to understand clearly about your images on the Demotix website and royalties payment etc., we have summarized the attached Q&A to reply to your queries,” Visual China Group writes. Here’s the PDF that was attached:

Regarding photos in the Demotix archive, VCG says that it is “entitled to retain these images and not to delete them, and we also have no obligation to return your images.”

And here’s the answer for people who are asking about unpaid royalties:

As long as we distribute your images and receive any payment from the licensees, we will pay you the royalties in accordance with the Demotix Contract. If you haven’t received our payment notice, that means your images haven’t been licensed, and please do not inquire about it any more.

For the balance in your account, as they were produced before we bought Corbis Images’ licensing businesses (excluding Splash), we are not obligated to make the payment. So please refer to Corbis (presently, known as “Branded Entertainment Network”) for any check or payment of the balance in your account.

It seems that VCG is also having issues with matching photos with the photographers that own them…

In addition, since the sale reports provided by the licensees include only images ID without names of contributors, we are endeavoring to find out whom the images belong to, and it will take some time. However, we will make the payment to you as soon as possible.

At least a few photographers, unhappy with these explanations sent over a year after the sale, took to Twitter to vent:

This is an unfortunate end for the Demotix brand, which grew quickly after being founded in 2009 and at one time had partnered with some of the biggest publications around the Web and world.

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.

Fake Photo of Trump’s ‘Photoshopped’ Hand Fools the Internet

After ABC News aired an interview with President Trump this week, controversy erupted after people began accusing the White House of Photoshopping a photo of Trump to make his hand look bigger than it actually is. It turns out that Photoshopped photo was actually a fake.

The photo in ABC’s broadcast at the center of the controversy is one that is currently hanging near a staircase in the White House.

The Washington Post reports that the hoopla started after New York Observer writer Dana Schwartz Tweeted a comparison photo showing how abnormally large Trump’s hand is in the photo:

“Trump 100% photoshopped his hand bigger for this picture hanging in the white house, which is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen,” wrote Schwartz in her Tweet, which has since been deleted.

She soon did some research and found the original photo on Getty’s website and posted another comparison:

Schwartz’ Tweets went viral with tens of thousands of retweets, and soon others were weighing in about how clearly Photoshopped Trump’s hand is in the photo.

“It’s a warp deformer,” Tweeted Disney animation supervisor Joaquin Baldwin:

From the comparisons, it was clear that Trump’s hand had been digitally inflated by the White House for its print hanging near a staircase. Case closed… except it was the original viral image that turned out to be the fake.

The Washington Post points out that the photo shared by Schwartz isn’t actually the photo that appeared in ABC’s broadcast, and it’s not the photo that’s hanging in the White House:

The photo that went viral was an edited version of ABC’s still frame, as people soon began pointing out:

It turns out Schwartz had found her original comparison photo through a Twitter account called @JohnnyAmerica6, which had apparently ‘Shopped the picture as a joke.

Schwartz then took down her original Tweets and began Tweeting out apologies for not verifying the information before broadcasting it to the Web:

As an interesting side note: Schwartz’ employer, the New York Observer, is owned by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

This Woman Tried to Publicly Shame a Photographer, and It Backfired


One woman just received a big lesson on how NOT to treat photographers, and one photographer is being praised for how she handled an extremely difficult client.

It all started when the woman published her private conversation and dispute with the baby photographer on her town’s “Cheers and Jeers” Facebook page (where locals can share gripes, complains, raves, and praises) in an attempt to shame the photographer for giving her bad service:


After reading the conversation, however, the town’s residents overwhelmingly voiced their support for the photographer and how she handled the woman’s behavior. One of the residents then took screenshots of the thread and published it to Reddit, where it went viral.

Here’s the conversation posted by the photography client (the blue text boxes are the woman’s messages, and the gray ones are the photographer’s responses):


The woman posted this conversation in hopes that others would side with her against the photographer, but things didn’t go according to plan. Here’s a sampling of the responses to her post:


As you can see, the woman’s “jeer” turned out to be an ad for the photographer that may have attracted at least one potential future photo client.