Archivi categoria: Culture

Annoyed Musician Shoots Audience with Phone Instead of Playing His Solo

Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer hates when people at the band’s shows spend the whole time staring through their screen—shooting the performance on a 4-inch box instead of experiencing it for themselves. So last year, during a show in Turin, Italy, he turned the tables.

During the band’s best known song, “Californication”, Klinghoffer decided not to play his guitar solo. Instead, he grabbed his smartphone and spent 30 seconds filming the crowd and shaking his head at them instead.

At first it looks like a simple stunt, maybe not even a statement, but when asked about it later by a fan, Klinghoffer explained that he was, in fact, annoyed and making a point. “When I see people holding machines up and obstructing the view of the people behind them, I get angry,” he told his fan, according to Alternative Nation. “I’ve never heard a musician say, ‘Oh man, I love looking out and seeing a sea of phones.’ I hear the opposite.”

We’ve heard of musician’s calling out fans and even photographers at their shows for using their phones or being disrespectful with their cameras, but this is a novel approach. Instead of stopping the show or shaming an individual, Klinghoffer just showed the crowd what he was seeing.

In a sense he’s saying: your job is to enjoy the show, my job is to play; if you don’t do your job I won’t do mine.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Klinghoffer is being paid to play by those concertgoers, who technically have the right to experience the show however they please… no matter how annoying it is to fellow photographers, fans, or the musicians onstage.

(via Fstoppers)

Marathon Runner Busted for Cheating Thanks to Finish Line Photo

Jane Seo, a professional food blogger, dashed through the finish line to clinch the Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon in an outstanding 1 hour and 21 minutes back on Feb 19th, beating thousands to win the 2nd place with an impressive 6:15-per-mile pace. However, she was soon revealed as a cheater by a sharp-eyed sleuth who found proof in her finish line photo.

“Suspicions arose almost immediately after Seo, who is 24 and writes regularly for The Huffington Post, crossed the finish line in the 13.1 half-marathon division Sunday,” the Miami News Times reports. “Race timer Josh Stern quickly noted that her timing chip logged unusually fast miles in the second half of the race, when runners often slow down rather than dramatically speed up.”

What Seo did not realize was that the evidence of her cheating derived victory was sitting on her Garmin wristwatch, and an enhanced digital photo could spill her ill-gotten beans.

Derek Murphy, an independent running investigator who specializes in catching cheaters, then started looking at the results. Murphy came across a photo of Seo, wearing her medal, which also showed her wearing a Garmin Forerunner 235 watch on which the race timings were still visible.

The smoking gun photo by MarathonFoto.

Zooming into the shot, Murphy realized that Seo’s watch verified her time of 1 hour 22 minutes but also showed she had covered only 11.65 miles — nearly two miles short of the full race.

Seo, educated at Harvard, wanted to legitimize her timings after the race, so afterward she accurately bicycled the entire course using her GPS watch and then posted the detailed timings of her mile-by-mile records of her grueling 13.1 miles on strava.com. But for those timings, an analysis of the flyby screen showed that the she had produced timings that were taken after the race was over.

When the evidence was revealed, Seo eventually confessed to cutting the course and was disqualified. And that’s how one cropped photo helped bust a marathon cheater.

(via Ars Technica)

Is Street Photography Killing Itself?

Is the most egalitarian form of photography, ‘street photography’, being destroyed by its own popularity? Is such a thing even possible? I won’t profess to have a clear answer to this question, but I do have some thoughts. Those thoughts may turn into a rant, but I’ll try to contain myself!

Egalitarian = good, right?

This question hits right at the heart of photography and, most specifically, digital photography. If something is easy, more people will do it. The more people doing it, the more ‘cultivated talent’ there will be (which is a good thing). However, there can be a cost: the dross can become overwhelming.

Street photography is easy for everyone to engage in. If you have a camera and are able to access public areas, you can shoot street photography. While this sounds great, I can’t help but feel something of a massacre is taking place. Cameras have become optical machine guns, mowing down everyone and everything with carefree abandon.

The problem, as I see it, is exacerbated by a particular catalyst: for want of a better word, it is ‘cool’. When something is fashionable in this way, the self-image can become the real target, rather than the photograph itself.

So what has ‘coolness’ done for street photography?

It has clouded judgment, that’s what it has done. Some photographers evidently struggle to see past their excitement at indulging in this fountain of cool. Twenty years ago, to pull this off, you had to tote a film camera around and go through all the palava of changing rolls, developing them, faffing with lightboxes, checking contact sheets and making prints. If a person was prepared to go through all of this inglorious hassle, there was a very good chance they were reaching a bit deeper, within and without.

Now, in the digital age, you can buy the right ‘stealth satchel’, blaze away and saturate Instagram and Flickr within hours. At no point in this process will you have to consider the merits of the photographs being taken, because it doesn’t matter. You’re a rock and roll street sniper. At least a landscape photographer has to deal with bad weather, muddy feet and uncooperative light to get his or her shots and that obstacle of effort acts as a filter.

When it’s raining, the street ninja just slides into Starbucks and takes 482 photographs of coffee cups, tables, people’s feet, the window, people walking past the window, people tying their shoe laces… and they’re all painfully boring. Sadly, this garbage is overflowing into the street so to speak. The visible face of popular photography is more and more being defined by street photography, when we’re not being overwhelmed by photos of people’s dinner on social media.

Why could this be bad?

The good street photography is being buried, that’s why. It is more difficult than it should be to find consistently good street photography taken by someone without an already well-known name. The work is out there, I have no doubt of that, but the process of finding it is exhausting and depressing. There also seems to be a bit too much ego in the mix. Far too many of these (often very young) photographers seem unwilling to learn. They’re already amazing, which they know, because that’s what they tell each other continuously on social media. They also have lots of ‘likes’, so that’s that.

On the occasions when I have seen really good photographs on Instagram/Facebook groups, the inspiring work barely gets a mention. Nobody cares. That’s not what social media is about and street photography has become the social media of photography: an avalanche of banal, shallow and unreflective nothing that hasn’t the time to consider its own context. Tell a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. In the same way, much of this ‘great street photography’ is, well, the new great.

Editing. What is that?

Too many street photographers don’t edit. They share everything, perhaps because they think the world wants to know what fifty different takes of groups of random people walking down the street looks like at 8:56 in the morning, on their way into work. I applaud the enthusiasm, but photography is like selling your house. You show the best bits, while trying to avoid scrutiny of the bad bits.

You put your junk into the loft, or carefully pack cupboards. You mow the lawn, give a lick of paint to that beautiful front door and make sure your new kitchen is sparkling. The whole point is to draw attention to the good bits and let them define your house as a proposition. You curate the impression you want to leave people with. What you don’t do is give them a guided tour of the junk pile corner of your garden, the rotten window frame you’ve meant to replace and then hand them a map of the broken floor tiles.

When you’re Magnum Photos, you can put out a book full of contact sheets when most of the photographers who took those hugely iconic images are dead! Everyone else is better off editing at least until it hurts.

Endless juxtapositions and their formulaic brethren

Visual juxtapositions are akin to a trick that can be performed according to recipe. They are cookie cutter photographs that deliver all of their impact (if they have any at all) in no more time than it takes to mentally identify the game. A boot on a poster steps on a passing pedestrian’s head. The man standing at a bus stop is being shouted at by a woman on a billboard.

See, you didn’t even need a photo to experience all that such photographs contain: a simple, boring, endlessly repeated ‘jingle’. You could only ever write one short line about such photographs, because they contain nothing beyond the superficial.

Some photographers have built entire series (in fact entire websites) crammed full of variations of the same thing. They’re no more interesting than ‘zonies’ obsessed with Ansel Adams’ Zone System, who 20 years ago produced endless photographs of tree stumps and sticks that showed how wonderfully they’d applied -3 compensation development. My personal hit list goes something like this:

Juxtapositions. If they say nothing and have no appeal beyond their initial visual recognition, they’re boring. Really boring. Even the ‘good ones’.

Juxtapositions are almost ALL the same. This is a quick screen grab after google searching ‘street photography juxtaposition’.

Random photos of nothing, for no reason, with no content, thought, insight or anything. They’re not so casual as to be cool. They’re just boring.

Faux edginess. People being made to look mean, when they aren’t. Intensity that has been added in Photoshop, or with a pithy title that over-eggs the pudding. Their landscape photography equivalents are the ones shot in Yosemite (or similar) during evidently pleasant weather, that have been heavily over-cooked in post, and then titled ‘_____, Clearing Winter Storm’.

Arrows and street signs. OK, so there is always going to be potential here. Never say never and all that, but I wish I could erase memory of every photo like the one below I have seen and wish I could un-see.

So what do you think about these photographs?

Note: These following street photos are being shared under fair use for commentary and critique. The names of the photographers have been omitted to not single any artist out in a negative way. Anyone who wishes to have their photo removed will have their request respected immediately.

What can you say about this photograph? Is there anything to say?
Posting a letter. Am I missing something?
Waiting for a bus. Is the appeal in her age? If so, where is this going?
The hand/scarf over her face does not make this photo any less banal.
The most overused street photography formula of them all: arrow with person going the wrong way. I don’t see anything here to elevate this image beyond formula.
Is this photo truly compelling because of the black and white theme?
Does this work? If so, why? I see an initial ‘edginess’ replaced by nothing (along with the realization that there isn’t actually an edge)
Everyone hates a mop handle in the eye. Is this an aspirational photo? If so, why? The ‘punchline’ is paper thin.
We see many images like this. Is there supposed to be humour in the sleeping man? Is there something else going on that I am just not seeing?

What goes in comes out

Really engaging photographs are never the product of laziness, or formula, but this does not mean it should be hard work either. “Endeavor” is perhaps the best term. If we put in effort (and some thought) we can generally produce photographs worth more than a quick glance. That does not mean waiting for all of two minutes until a man of the right height walks past a poster depicting a large open mouth. Such photos are simply the free version of buying a ticket to Yosemite and placing your tripod in the exact spot ‘Clearing Winter Storm’ was taken 75 years earlier. It’s easy. It requires no real effort, thought or (most importantly) personal investment.

I am not suggesting a hipster coffee approach here. Riding to the Andes on a unicycle to collect the coffee does not make it taste any different. Working your ass off in photography without that effort actually affecting your photographs is no different. However, just engaging in the subject of photography helps. Learning a little more about yourself helps. Learning about the people and environment around you and your thoughts and reactions to it helps. The sad truth is that most of our effort in photography amounts to nothing. We’ve all worked hard and come back with a slew of entirely disappointing images, but this does not mean we stop trying.

Street photography is fantastic and compelling, but it is also incredibly difficult to do well. In part, this is because we have seen so much of it before. Brilliant, obsessive workaholics have been doing it for 70 years, but they aren’t us. They haven’t had our experiences. They haven’t seen everything through the same eyes. Their insights are not ours. Every single person wielding a camera has the potential to say something interesting, or see something engaging. Again, it comes down to relationships and, even on the street, our relationship with what is in front of the camera is key.

Once a photographer has learned a few ‘tricks’, they are presented with a choice: keep chasing gimmicks or formulas, or look deeper. It’s OK to be lost. It’s OK not to know what you’re doing. It’s OK to fail. It’s absolutely fine to feel insecure about your work. In fact, all of these things are very cool because they state very loudly that a person is trying, striving, exploring and searching in a very personal sense…. call it what you will.

It is this highly individual engagement that makes photography interesting. Street photographs needn’t take that away. It isn’t an altar that photographers must worship beneath and it isn’t a sport either. Some years ago I read a passage in a men’s magazine advising young men not to approach their sexual endeavors in the same way as they might improvements to their sporting performance. And here we are back to the supreme importance of relationships, expression and connection. Without these things, both just become repetitive, predictable acts that lose their luster.


The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


About the author: After studying Biological Sciences at Bristol University, Thomas served in the British Army before spending fifteen years living and photographing in conflict zones as a civilian. His work has won numerous international awards and has been exhibited in the UK, US, Europe. You can find more of his work and writing on his website and The Photo Fundamentalist. This article was also published here.

Taking the Last Picture of Something

The recent collapsing of the Azure Window in Malta finally motivated me to take my keyboard and tell you the story behind the picture above.

T’was the summer of 2015. We were on a journey on the North Shore, a beautiful region of Québec at the mouth of the St Lawrence River. A pretty classic road trip. Departure from Montréal, a stop at Québec City, two nights at Grandes Bergeronnes next to Tadoussac. Here we go for a nice weekend of oxygenation. A summary can be seen in this video:

But among the hundred of pictures taken during this trip, it’s without any doubts this lonely seaplane on a lake at sunset that is the most fascinating.

This picture had been shot on the 2nd night of our weekend. While we were en route for Tadoussac for dinner, when our attention was caught by the side of the road with this seaplane and this lake. This was the kind of moment where all the passengers of the car marvel at the beauty of a fleeting moment of a sunset, and when the detour to go to the shore is not even to be discussed.

It was August 21st at 8.13PM.

Less than two days later… “Another Tragedy for Air Saguenay”

“Seaplane Crash on North Shore: ‘vertical’ impact”

While we were heading back to Montréal, the radio announced the crash of a seaplane of Air Saguenay. After the obvious horror and empathy for the victims, a realization came to me — a realization that my photograph is probably among the last, maybe the last, existing of this aircraft.

The last visual trace of this seaplane in all its glory, innocently “immortalized” by my camera…

It’s also my guilty pleasure: this photography attracts, in an inexplicable manner, gazes and attention. As if an invisible force was attracting them, viewers stop and contemplate. And I like to come and have a contextualizing conversation…

Me: “Do you like this picture?”

Viewer: “Yes! It’s really [insert a positive adjective like beautiful, nice, superb…]!”

Me: “You know there’s a whole story behind this picture…”

Viewer: …

Me: “… This plane crashed the day after this picture. It’s probably among the last pictures of this particular plane.”

Viewer: *Mixed expression of fascination and half-disgust towards this new morbid information*

And this is where you really realize the responsibility of a photographer; our pictures might be the last trace of someone, somewhere, or something. Or maybe they will be the last trace of us in this world. That’s why they must exist (and the perfectionist will say “and be perfect too”).

This is where I also realized the broad scope of the name “visual storyteller” to describe a photographer. The story we’re telling is not always in the picture itself or in the moment it captured. No. It’s sometimes in a moment before or the after. In a temporality that hasn’t been frozen in the picture.

But taking a picture, and knowing it’s the last of the object you’re portraying, is a unique experience. Morbid, but profoundly aesthetic. Fascinating, but heavy with unsolved questions. It’s a peculiar feeling for a peculiar piece of art.

Almost two years after, I still don’t know how I feel about this picture and the responsibility it bears. But I feel that it deeply moves me, and will continue to do so until my last shutter click.


About the author: Jp Valery is a photographer and a product manager at Gameloft who’s based in Montréal, Quebec. You can find more of his work and connect with him on his website, portfolio, Twitter, Instagram, 500px, and Facebook. You can buy a print of Valery’s photo here. This article was also published here.

Famous South African Photographer Found Guilty of Murdering Sex Worker

Well-known South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa has been found guilty of murdering a sex worker in a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, in 2013.

Mthethwa received a Fulbright Scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received his master’s degree in imaging arts in 1989. He is among South Africa’s most famous artists and has had 35 solo exhibitions internationally. His works have been shown at important institutions around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the International Centre of Photography, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and at the Venice Biennale. Mthethwa is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

During the trial, the prosecution presented CCTV footage linking Mthethwa to the crime scene. The footage shows the artist’s black Porsche pulling up next to 23-year-old Nokuphila Kumalo. The driver is then seen exiting the car and attacking the young woman. He killed her “by repeatedly kicking her and stomping her body with booted feet,” said the indictment. Mthethwa argued that it was not him in the video‚ and called on “gait” experts to testify that the manner in which the attacker walked did not match his style of walking. However, Judge Patricia Goliath stated in her ruling that the video furnished a “silent witness.”

Women’s rights activists rallied outside the courthouse over the course of the lengthy trial with one placard reading, “Sex workers are not your Art”.

Hugs after the guilty verdict (left), and protesters outside the courtroom (right). Photos by SWEAT.
Photo by SWEAT.

Mthethwa uses environmental portraiture, often taken in quiet domestic settings, to explore the life of migrants, farmers and miners in post-apartheid South Africa. He told PDN that in photographing marginalized South Africans in their homes, “I really wanted to empower the people.”

ArtNet reports that Mthetwas’s bail has been revoked while he awaits sentencing on March 29, 2017.


Image credits: Header photo by SWEAT.

Famous South African Photographer Found Guilty of Murdering Sex Worker

Well-known South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa has been found guilty of murdering a sex worker in a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, in 2013.

Mthethwa received a Fulbright Scholarship to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received his master’s degree in imaging arts in 1989. He is among South Africa’s most famous artists and has had 35 solo exhibitions internationally. His works have been shown at important institutions around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the International Centre of Photography, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and at the Venice Biennale. Mthethwa is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

During the trial, the prosecution presented CCTV footage linking Mthethwa to the crime scene. The footage shows the artist’s black Porsche pulling up next to 23-year-old Nokuphila Kumalo. The driver is then seen exiting the car and attacking the young woman. He killed her “by repeatedly kicking her and stomping her body with booted feet,” said the indictment. Mthethwa argued that it was not him in the video‚ and called on “gait” experts to testify that the manner in which the attacker walked did not match his style of walking. However, Judge Patricia Goliath stated in her ruling that the video furnished a “silent witness.”

Women’s rights activists rallied outside the courthouse over the course of the lengthy trial with one placard reading, “Sex workers are not your Art”.

Hugs after the guilty verdict (left), and protesters outside the courtroom (right). Photos by SWEAT.
Photo by SWEAT.

Mthethwa uses environmental portraiture, often taken in quiet domestic settings, to explore the life of migrants, farmers and miners in post-apartheid South Africa. He told PDN that in photographing marginalized South Africans in their homes, “I really wanted to empower the people.”

ArtNet reports that Mthetwas’s bail has been revoked while he awaits sentencing on March 29, 2017.


Image credits: Header photo by SWEAT.

When a Kind Old Man Offered to Shoot a Couple’s Photo on the Beach…

There’s a new viral photo going around that shows what happened when a generous gesture turned into a heartwarming photo fail.

Reddit user Tyguy462 was walking around on a beach with his wife when a kind elderly man offered to shoot a photo for them.

“Would you like me to take a photo of you two love birds?,” the man asked. The couple agreed, handed over the wife’s phone, and posed for a picture. When they got around to reviewing the photo afterward, the couple was surprised to find a closeup photo of the man’s face instead. It turns out the iPhone hadn’t been switched out of selfie mode.

“Nailed it,” says Tyguy462.