Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eddie Adams and Stacy Pearsall

My focal photographer choice was partially by chance because I wanted to find out who took the "Saigon Execution" photograph. Little did I know, that it was taken by a well respected photojournalist named Eddie Adams. I wanted to find a photographer who had a similar work as Adams and it was quite difficult looking for one. However, to the best of my abilities, Stacy Pearsall was the closest photographer that emulated Adams.

Adams became interested in photography during his teenage years. Doing portrait and wedding photography, he decided to take his passion elsewhere. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and spent three years as a combat photographer during the Korean War. Noted for his celebrity portraits and coverage of 13 wars (including the Korean War), Adams was a Pulitzer Prize winning American photographer and photojournalist, known for the photograph "Saigon Execution" (Figure 1).

I personally believe that, combat photography is the most dangerous type of job for photographers. They are soldiers armed by photographic equipment, instead of firearms and they are photographers who are trained for war. One can say that it is profession which is bittersweet. Combat photographers are placed in the most difficult situations, most of the times being in the middle of a gunfire, but they are able to take the most controversial, yet beautiful pictures during wartimes.

Figure 1 - Saigon Execution: A picture of General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém on February 1, 1968 in the Vietnam War.

This picture caused a lot of controversy which Adams did not mean to cause. For those who do not know the real story or meaning behind this picture, it is obvious to conclude the inhumane act that General Loan showed when this picture was taken. However, that was not the case. Lém was actually a Viet Cong lieutenant prisoner who murdered a South Vietnamese colonel, his wife and their six children ("Newseum"). After this photograph was published, Adams said "Photographs, you know, they're half-truths." He apologized to General Loan, in person, for the humility and irreparable damage it caused to the General's honour and Adams later acknowledged him as a "hero" of "just cause".

Stacy Pearsall
Pearsall's military background is associated with the long line of military men and women in her family. Her great-grandfather was a Marine in WWI, her grandfather served in WWII and her father was a Navy-man in the Vietnam War era. She joined the Combat Camera Squadron in January of 2002 and was taught by other competitive photographers. Four tours later, she has awarded two Photographer of the Year (2003 and 2007) by the NPPA, and she is one of only two women who has won it since 1967. She was medically retired after being injured in 2003 and 2007 while serving in Iraq (Pearsall).

I found Pearsall's work enticing and captivating, and I feel as if I am where she was when she took the picture. Although it does not have the black and white affect that are found in most of Adams' photographs, it still shows the wonderful point of views that a combat photographer sees. I would not classify Pearsall only as a photojournalist because she also some art photography which she has some of her comrades posed in certain positions, and there are also some pictures which have been clearly edited.


Figure 2 - U.S. Army Spec. William McGrath and Spec. Daniel Brothers launch a grenade toward enemy fighters after coming under fire in Buhriz, Iraq, on Feb. 15, 2007

Figure 3 - U.S. Air Force Airmen transfer wounded military personnel form an ambulance to a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 22, 2003

The 'Brotherhood' series definitely sends an impact to those that are away from home, those that are away from their loves ones and those who are not sure if they are coming home. Figure 2 is a perfect picture when it comes to support. Just having the focus on the two soldiers shows that they are brothers in arms. War overseas can sometimes be hard for the men and women serving in the army. They have no one to rely on but each other in times of happiness, being homesick and pain. So not only are they brothers in arms, but they are also there for emotional support. Figure 3 shows a picture of relief. The perfect centered backdrop of the sunset shows that at the end of the day, regardless if the soldier is wounded or not, they are always there for each other. In addition, I also think if Figure 3 did not have a caption, a viewer could conclude that a soldier has died in action. It goes to show that captions help give meaning to the photograph.


Figure 4 - While searching for al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna forces, members of the Multi-Iraqi Transitional Team, 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, question the locals during Operation Orange Justice in Buhriz, Iraq, on Feb. 10, 2007

Figure 5 - An Iraqi soldier from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, tries to kick open a gate during a cordon and search for insurgence and weapons caches in Chubinait, Iraq, on Feb. 3, 2007

Figure 6 - A local Iraqi woman cries after her husband is detained during Operation Brown Hawk in Tahrir, Iraq on Feb 27, 2007.

The 'Operation Iraq Freedom' series is one of Pearsall's best work. It shows the struggles of Iraq during the war and how its people is being affected. Personally, I think that it is hard for Iraqi soldiers to hunt down their own people and it pains them to see their own people suffering because of the war. They should be united as a nation, however, due to conflicting beliefs, they are divided. Figures 4 shows innocence in terms of the people being interrogated about the location of people they are associated with. You can see the full cooperation of the gentleman on the right. I believe that he's being cooperative for the sake of his family. Figure 5 captures an action moment of an Iraqi soldier breaking down a door. I think that this picture was taking at the right place at the right time because it portrays that a cordon and search operation is no joke and should not be taken lightly. The black and white effect in Figure 6 definitely captures the pain and sadness that the Iraqi woman is going through as she watches her husband being detained. I believe that Iraqi women who are involved with men who are detained are heartbroken not because of the actions that their husbands took part in, but because they may never see their husbands again.

"1969 Spot News: Edward Adams, The Associated Press." Newseum. Newseum, n.d. Web. 29 Nov 2011. <http://www.newseum.org/exhibits-and-theaters/permanent-exhibits/pulitzer/videos/1969-spot-news-edward-adams--the-associated-press.html>

"Eddie Adams: Biography." N.p., 2004. Web. 29 Nov 2011. <http://www.answers.com/topic/eddie-adams-1>

Goldberg, Jonah. "There are Tears in My Eyes-Eddie Adams & the Most Famous Photo of the Vietnam War." National Review Online. N.p., 1999. Web. 29 Nov 2011. <http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/204511/there-are-tears-my-eyes/jonah-goldberg>

Pearsall, Stacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov 2011. <http://stacypearsall.photoshelter.com/>

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Photo Journal 2 - Art Photographs VS. Press Photographs


Art Photography or Fine Art Photography refers to photographs that are created in accordance with the creative vision of the photographer as artist.

Minkkinen Arno Rafael, Le Bouquet d'Arbres, Malmo Castle Prison, Malmo, Sweden, 2007 Vintage silver print 8.5 x 5.75 inch, Courtesy Robert Klein Gallery

Christian Houge, "Oleg" C-print , 66 x 200 cm, Limited edition of 7 a Courtesy Christian Houge and ellen-k FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY


Press Photography or Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that creates images in order to tell a news story.

The general news singles category was won by the Brazilian photographer Luiz Vasconcelos, of Jornal A Critica/Zuma Press, showing a woman who tries to stop the forced eviction of her people in Manaus, Brazil, on 10 March, 2008.

Chinese photographer Chen Qinggang won first prize in the spot news singles category for "Rescue troops carry earthquake survivor, Belchuan County, China, 14 May."


     One difference between Art Photography and Press Photography is that Art Photography seems to have little or no expression and, Rafael and Houge's photos clearly depicts this. The mood of the picture somewhat feels monotone and the feeling or thought that one feels when looking at these types of photographs seem linear. Art Photography makes viewers see what the photographer is seeing at a particular point in time. The image taken does not suggest any after thought or post-reflection on the picture. For example, if a photographer takes a photo of a tree, there is no other way to further expand on what you feel about the picture besides thinking if it is a nice tree or not. Press Photography is the opposite of this because these types of images provokes the viewer's mind and to make them feel a spectrum of emotions, which can be seen in both photos by Chen and Vasconcelos. Press Photography captures the emotions within its frame and makes viewers feel this strongly. It also allows viewers to think outside of the box and wonder what possible things, good or bad, are happening just by looking at the picture. Also in terms of titles, Art Photography tends to have the vaguest titles compared to Press Photography, which have detailed captions explaining the photo.
  Another difference between Art and Press Photography is that there are guidelines that Press Photography have to abide to which are outlined by the NPPA (National Press Photographers Association). They are constricted to interfere with their subjects, unlike Art Photography, where most photographs are staged. There is more freedom associated with Art Photography because photographers are able to take photos and add an artistic touch to it. Press Photographers are not able to have this artistic touch. Their photos are simply based on their instincts, and their images are of the moment. Henri Cartier-Bresson, the godfather of photojournalism, even says that photojournalism is a speedy medium. Because they have to rely on their instincts, action shots are used often. Press Photographers are often in the middle of a conflict or a crisis, and sometimes in more come and peaceful situations. Art Photographers create the tone in their images.

  The whole idea of Art Photography is to alter the scene and/or the subject. It can be from adding objects into the scene or simply asking the subject to pose or do an action for the camera. Art Photographers also rely on digital imaging tools and a wide variety of other photography tools (different sets of lighting fixtures, flashes and lenses). Altering Art Photographs can include from changing the brightness, contrast, tint etc. of the image and this is ethical and accepted in the world of photography. However, it is not ethical to alter another photographers work without consent.

  As discussed previously, Press Photography is constrained by the NPPA to alter their images. They are allowed to make minor alterations, however, it must not affect the context of the photograph. Changing the photos also distorts the message of the image that is being shown by the photographer. Cropping something out of the photo is not allowed according to the NPPA. Westbrook says, "A shot of an individual rioter breaking a store window can look like an isolated act of criminality if the photojournalist does not show it in the context of a larger social event whose significance goes beyond the individual act." By altering a photograph, a photographer loses their integrity because they are providing a false image of the truth.


Friend, D. "Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment." The Digital Journalist. Retrieved 3 Nov. 2011 from <http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0412/friend.html>

"NPPA: Code of Ethics." National Press Photographers Association. Retrieved 3 Nov. 2011 from <http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/business_practices/ethics.html>

Westbrook, D. "A Brief History of Photojournalism." Photography Schools. Retrieved 3 Nov. 2011 from <http://www.photography-schools.com/photojournalismhistory.htm>

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shooting The Truth: Photojournalism

By Divina Mojica, WeiLong Li, Jessica Sunico & Arwin Prudenciado

What's the role of photo journalism?

The role of photo journalism is to visually inform the public with what is going on in the world around them. The phrase “A picture means a thousand words,” is quite an accurate definition of what photo journalism represents. When someone looks at a picture there are a variety of responses that they can have. These photos are strictly used to enhance a story and bring more of a realistic element to it.

Are there rules that photojournalists should follow? Why? Why not?

Yes. There are rules that photojournalists should follow.

There are nine standards from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Code of Ethics.

1. Accurately represent subjects
2. Do not be manipulated by staged photos
3. Avoid bias and stereotyping in work; provide complete information and context
4. Show consideration for subjects
5. Avoid influencing the actions of the photographic subject
6. Editing should not give the wrong impression of the subjects in the photograph
7. Do not compensate persons involved in photographs or in getting a photograph
8. Do not accept gifts or other favors from those involved in a photo
9. Do not purposely interfere with the work of other journalists

Also, we need to focus on the ethics violations. Everyone has right to keep their secret. How could someone just hide himself and wait to catch the photo about other people’s front wheel of bicycle fall into a puddle, and then his body fall on the ground? However, how about people accidentally catch that second and want others to think?

Although we have lots of photo editing software now, the photojournalism ethics are still important for photojournalists.

Is the ethics of taking journalistic photos different than the ethics of writing a news story?

According to the Society of Professional Journalists their Code of Ethics includes 4 areas:

Seek Truth and Report It - Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
- Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
This is similar to point number 1 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

- Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
This is similar to point number 2 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

- Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
- Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
These are similar to point number 3 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

- Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
This is similar to point number 5 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

- Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
This is similar to point number 6 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

Minimize Harm - Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

- Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
- Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
These are similar to point number 4 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

Act Independently - Journalists should be free of obligation to any other interest other than the public's right to know.
- Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
This is similar to point number 7 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

- Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
- Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
This is similar to point number 8 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

Be Accountable - Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Never plagiarize.
Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
This is similar to point number 9 of the NPPA Code of Ethics.

In summary, taking a journalistic photo and writing news requires the same set of ethics.

What's the impact of altering press photographs? Should they be edited (at all) in post production?

The impact of altering press photographs is that it distorts what the photographers or editors
want the viewers to see from what has actually happened. Altering press photographs not only includes digitally manipulating them after they are taken. It also includes photographing scenes that are staged by another individual to make it seem like something important has happened, photographing scenes that are staged by the photographer themselves and giving false titles or misleading captions that has nothing to do with the photos. By altering press photographs, this creates a false image to the minds of the viewers. They may not realize it at first, but there is a possibility that their mindsets will be affected in their daily lives. For example, a photo of a man from Afghanistan in front of an explosion. This can change a viewer's opinion about all Afghan men, subliminally making them think they are all terrorists. Also, altering photographs has been around for a while and digital manipulation only makes it easier. Political figures altered photographs for propaganda.

Before and after picture of Joseph Stalin with and without Nikolai Yezhov.

A citizen of Tyre who appears to be dead (as implied by the caption) but is only feigning death.

Pictures of a Hezbollah gunman who apparently caused an explosion. However, taking a closer look at the flames, it is only a pile of burning tires.

Photographs should be edited but only to the extent that they do not distort the actual meaning of the photograph. Minor edits should only be changing the contrast and brightness as such. The edits should improve the quality of the photograph, but not bend the context of the photograph.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Documenting the Great Depression

Why the project had significant impact on society?
In my opinion, the main significance and impact on society that the Farm Security Administration-Office Of War Information Collection project was that it enabled photographers to report and document the problems of farmers during the Depression in the United States to the rest of the country. The photographers portrayed the poor conditions of tenant cotton farmers and as well as it gave awareness to the poor conditions of migrant farmers. The photographers were able to tell a story about the daily lives of people and the photographs were meant to be seen by the middle-class audience so that they may sympathize rural Americans and to also show the condition of a human spirit even in the most difficult times. This lead to the right movement towards rural rehabilitation program which has helped poor farmers buy land and until today, it continues to operate under Farmers Home Administration.

What was the role of Migrant Mother photograph in the period or great depression and what is it nowadays?
The role of the 'Migrant Mother' during the Depression was that it created an image of a struggling mother and her family. I would say that it created a picture of a survivor, someone who wouldn't give up, someone who would do anything for her family just to get by. The photographer, Dorothea Lange, describes her first encounter with the 'Migrant Mother' who was named Florence Owens Thompson.
I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
I believe that nowadays, I think that the role of the Migrant Mother today is still the same, especially for single mothers who are working three jobs and are barely able to make rent. These are the mothers who work for 20 hours and sleep for four. I think it's much different nowadays because some women sell their bodies to make money for their families whether they like it or not because they have no other choice.

Migrant Mother

Photo Manipulation

This is an original photo which I took this past summer at my trailer in Peterborough, near Kawartha Lake. It was my last visit at the trailer for the year as it was getting too cold to stay there overnight. Photo manipulation is something that I've wanted to do for a long time but I was always afraid of messing up the quality of the picture. As you can see at the original photo that I took, some might say that it has been enhanced in some way or form, but actually it is the original picture. It might have been the time of day, the angle of the sun or where I was at that point in time, but to me, this picture was already perfect. I feel as if this picture could be a postcard. To be honest, I wasn't even sure what shutter speed, ISO or aperture setting that I was using. I will admit that this photo was taken by luck :).

I was quite hesitant to manipulate this picture. I was going to choose a regular Black and White manipulation, but I thought that would change the tone of the photo to a more 'gloomy' emotion. I thought it was appropriate to do a Focal Black and White effect to the picture. I think this effect was appropriate because to me it symbolized the end of the summer, almost as if the sun was fading. I didn't want to add another effect to it just because I don't like overdoing things. Most manipulated photos these days have the tendency to overdo itself and I think that itself takes away a lot from the photo. To explain what I mean, I edited the photo once again to show what I mean by disrupting the quality of the photo. I chose the effects Soften, Vignette and HDR-ish. It is quite obvious that the photo is much better than previous edit. However, in my humble opinion, it is still not as good as the original photo.

I think programs like Picasa is a very useful program to enhance or manipulate photos for 'newbies' like myself. It's not as complicated Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. It enables photographers to embrace photo editing without the fear of taking the quality from the photo. I think that editing landscape photography is much easier than doing let's say, portraits or photo shoots. The reason being there would be many subtle changes to colour and contrast, while doing some skin retouching or removable of blemishes or flaws, while maintaining the skin texture.


Focal B/W

Soften x Vignette x HDR-ish

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Can art be mechanically reproduced?

When something is reproduced for so many times is that art? What's the importance of the mechanical reproducibility of the art? What was the impact on mechanical reproducibility on the society?

In my opinion, art is still considered art, no matter how many times it is reproduced. Painters have used photography as a sense inspiration, change of view point by painting an object or subject in a number of angles. However, there is a sense of ethical issue when it comes to reproducing art. The feel of originality sometimes gets blurred because it is difficult to determine which pieces are the original and which ones are the duplicates. The importance of mechanical reproducibility of the art is that art is evolving. By this, I mean that art is embracing digital technology. Although, painting is not a dead form, graphic designing is increasing and a lot of artists are using this medium more and more because of the variety of techniques that can be done using technology. Because of this, mechanical reproducibility on the society due to the increasing technology. There are many masterpieces that have been duplicated and from what I said previously, there is an ethical issue involved. People have been made to believe that some art pieces are original and they are sold these pieces. Also, currency from many countries have been duplicated because of mechanical reproducibility.

Is photography art, or contribution to the art? Is it just a tool used by artists?
As I mentioned previously, photography is a medium of art and I also believe that it contributes to art. Graphic designers and painters use photography as inspiration and as their canvas for their artwork. Directors also use photographs to analyze what would be the best angles for their films because then they'll be able to see where everything is placed in a scene.

How and why Henry Peach Robinson created Fading Away? What was the reason?
Henry Peach Robinson's 'Fading Away' is both an albumen print (a method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative) and combination print (a method using two or more photographic images in conjunction from one another to create a single image - in this case five negatives). He created 'Fading Away' from his imagination to show a human being's experience with something painful, which shows here a realistic portrayal of a grieving family.

Photography has impacted the world of art and influenced some changes in the area of accessibility to art. If mechanical reproduction created revolution, what is happening now with digitalization?
Mechanical reproduction has evolved digitalization in many ways. Photographs can be enhanced to the point where a person's facial flaws can be removed, a person's body or face can be corrected to the point of perfection or a simple landscape photograph can be altered to where adding an object that wasn't there before can be placed to create a totally different picture.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Portrait Photography: Past VS Present

There are many differences of today's photography and portraits compared to the early days. One example is the accessibility of photography. Only those who were privileged or those with class had the chance to have themselves photographed. According to A History of Photography by Lemagny and Rouille, portrait studios had clienteles ranging from industrialists, doctors, lawyers, merchants to politicians, all of whom paid around $2.50 to $4.50 to have their pictures taken. Another example would be the process of having your photograph taken. The high price of having portraits taken was all due to the process of daguerrotype. This process used sheffield plates and was the raw material for having portrait photographs taken with a click of a button. Photos can also be printed at an instant just by giving you memory card to a print studio or by printing it yourself via your coloured printer.

The Daguerrotype Process

There were many different photographers in the past because they all specialized in their own technique. The calotype method was used both by amateur photographers like Victor Regnault and Paul Jeuffrain, and by photographers who were painters like Charles Negre and William John Newton. Those who specialized in the tinted portrait were Louis and Ernest Mayer. On top of those who were privileged, portrait photography captured the attention of other social classes "composed of celebrities in the worlds of politics, the arts, the press, the clergy and the army and those of the world of the theatre and the heads of state, like Queen Victoria and President Lincoln." Anyone who can get a hold of a camera today can pretty much take a picture of anyone or anything. There is a much wider variety of subjects today due to the mobility of small cameras and DSLRs.

Daguerrotype portrait of Abraham Lincoln and Colonel James Duncan

According to Precursors of the Photographic Portrait by Gisele Freund, the evolution of the social development in Western Europe, where the middle class gained political and economic status. Because of the huge population of middle class, demand for goods like portraits, increased, which made art become more mechanized. The technical evolution made it possible for photographs to be more accessible to the middle class. Contrasting to today, photography has been made easier that no matter who picks up a camera, are able to take pictures in a flash. And because technology is increase at an exponential rate, taking photographs in the future will most likely be easier than how it is today.

Evolution of Photography