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Veteran documentary photographer, Peter McKenzie, passed away on Tuesday morning October 10, 2017 after a long fight with cancer. I first met Peter in Mozambique in 2004 at the Foto Festa put on by the Associação Moçambicana de Fotografia. Cedric Nunn had invited me to join him and Peter on the trip. Peter was there with his French wife and adorable young son. Although he was probably a decade or so older than me, we had a great connection around photography and activism. I had done some work as a journalist and photographer in Wentworth with Groundtruth and Wentworth was Peter’s home area in Durban.

Peter McKenzie (left) and me at Restaurante Costa do Sol in Maputo. We were there for the Foto Festa in 2004. It is likely that Cedric Nunn took this picture with my camera.

Peter McKenzie (left) and me at Restaurante Costa do Sol in Maputo. We were there for the Foto Festa in 2004. If I remember correctly, Cedric Nunn took this picture with my camera.

Peter was an activist at heart. He used his photography to highlight injustice. He also had a heart for people and particularly passing on the decades of experience that he had gained as a photographer to the next generation. He had worked for Drum magazine as chief photographer, co-founded Afrapix Photo Agency, worked as co-ordinator of the Photojournalism Department at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, in Johannesburg, and as Chief Photographer at Panapress, Pan-African news agency. In recent years he founded the Durban Centre of Photography (DCP) where he trained young photographers in the craft of documentary photography. He invited me from time to time to present to his classes, and it was always a privilege to do so.

The last time I saw Peter was at DocuFest Africa 2017. When I first approached him to help by suggesting young photographers in KZN that we could feature in the festival, Peter was going to be in France and so was unavailable to present at the festival himself. Once the programme was already finalized, however, Peter contacted me to say he would be back early and could make it after all. I managed to create an extra slot on the Saturday afternoon for him.

At DocuFest Africa Peter presented a very personal, almost mystical journey he had been on relating to death. As he told us, he grew up in a very rigid Pentecostal home. His dad was a minister and although he and his siblings were allowed to attend local Hindu festivals, they were forbidden from eating the food. It was to those festivals, particularly that of Theemeri – fire walking that he turned in his final months. He spoke about how the image of fire from his Pentecostal background had been associated with the fires of hell. But his exploration of Theemeri was transforming fire for him into an image of refining and cleansing. His pictures of the Theemeri ceremony were experimental. He used a long lens and allowed the camera to focus where it would as he engaged in the ceremony in what he described as a semi-trance state.

The ever expressive Peter McKenzie during his presentation at DocuFest Africa 2017. By the way he looked none of us there would have believed that in just a couple of weeks he was to pass away.

The ever expressive Peter McKenzie during his presentation at DocuFest Africa 2017. By the way he looked none of us there would have believed that in just a couple of weeks he was to pass away.

Death is not something we readily speak about, yet it is all around us. Here in South Africa many of our people spend long hours on evenings and weekends at wakes and funerals. Just the other day I was at the wake of the security guard I had got to know well. Zalisile Cakucaku (Bra Z to all who knew him) guarded the NAHECS building at the University of Fort Hare (UFH). And he did so with dignity and grace. I had given him a lift home on a number of occasions and been into the home he built with his own hands. So when he suddenly passed away I and my digitisation team, who have been working on the ANC Archive at UFH, went to the wake to bring what comfort we could to his devastated wife and two children. Death does that. It brings devastation. There is little good we can say about it and so we avoid it as much as we can.

It’s been my observation that what we believe about death determines how we deal with it. For instance, if we believe we are the result of chance material evolution and that consciousness is constituted entirely of the firing of synapses in highly developed brain, then it is quite reasonable to be terrified of death, or at least loath to contemplate death, because death brings an end to one’s particular instance of material existence. That is the belief system inherent in most of our Western-based education.

If, on the other hand, one believes that if one has maintained good relationships in the community within which one exists and that the memory of that community will keep one present with the community after death as a “shade” (a living dead), then death holds considerably less fear for one. Many with a traditional African belief system hold that view.

It seems to me that Peter rejected the Pentecostalism of his upbringing. I did not get to engage him very much on it, but I am familiar with such churches. Some can be found to teach that one’s sins are weighed against one’s good deeds and if one is found wanting, then one’s destiny is the eternal fires of hell. This concept of the weighing of deeds on a scale that determines one’s ultimate destiny is not unique to some particularly religious strands of Pentecostalism, but is evident in many religions. If this was what Peter grew up with, it is understandable that he leaned away from that view in the last months of his life. There is little more burdensome than trying to please an unpleasable God! As Peter contemplated his end he seemed to lean toward a Hindu understanding of endless cycles of reincarnation.

Peter's last portrait. As far as I know the last portrait taken of Peter McKenzie taken by Harry Lock after Peter's lecture at DocuFest Africa as part of his project to document participants in the Hilton Arts Festival. Peter's good friend, Rafs Mayet (left) assists Harry (at the camera). None of us suspected this would be the last time we would see Peter.

Peter’s last portrait. As far as I know the last portrait taken of Peter McKenzie taken by Harry Lock after Peter’s lecture at DocuFest Africa as part of his project to document participants in the Hilton Arts Festival. Peter’s good friend, Rafs Mayet (left) assists Harry (at the camera). None of us suspected this would be the last time we would see Peter.

We know what happens to the body after death. There is plenty of evidence for that. But if we had to look for what happens to our consciousness after death, there would not be a lot of evidence that one could gather. The one exception, that I am aware of, is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If that could be established as historical fact, that would provide some concrete evidence of life after death and would certainly give some cause for hope. And, in my view, the hope would be particularly solid if it is true that the qualification for inheriting such life after physical death is not dependent upon my performance in this life, but on Christ’s life and sacrifice on my behalf – in other words, if it were a gift, and not something I needed to earn. I don’t know of any other historic event from which one could extract such hope regarding death. For at the end of the day death is our ultimate enemy and the ultimate enemy of all that we most cherish.

And so it is that death has taken Peter McKenzie from us. And we can all feel he was taken too early. Yet in the few short years and decades that we still live, we will cherish the memory of Peter, his life and energy and sense of humour and the passion and compassion that he brought wholeheartedly to the photographic community here in Southern Africa. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time. Hamba kahle umfowethu!

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This past Saturday I spent a day at the Durban Art Gallery conducting tours of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017. Participants included members of various camera clubs in the wider Durban area and professional commercial and documentary photographers. The Exhibition was opened last week and is expected to remain in place until at least the end of October when it will be shipped to Kenya to be exhibited on the street in downtown Nairobi.

Me introducing the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 to photographers and photography enthusiasts at an installation of the Exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery.

Me introducing the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 to photographers and photography enthusiasts at an installation of the Exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery. PHOTO: Harry Lock

Sponsorship by the World Press Photo Foundation and Africa Media Online means that entrance is free of charge. All are welcome. The Exhibition is an important educational opportunity for school groups. World Press Photo have produced educational materials relating to the Exhibition that can be downloaded here.

The Exhibition can be viewed at:

The Durban Art Gallery
2nd Floor,
City Hall,
Anton Lembede Street,
Durban
Tel: 031 3112264/9

We had some lively discussion regarding various images in the Exhibition.

We had some lively discussion regarding various images in the Exhibition. PHOTO: Emil von Maltitz

Thank you to Harry Lock and Emil von Maltitz for the photographs of the event and to Vanessa Cracknell and Heinz Benecke for organising such enthusiastic groups.

This is an interview conducted by Africa Media Online’s Robyn Keet with Femke Van Der Valk former head of exhibitions at World Press Photo and David Larsen, Managing Director of Africa Media Online who speak about the importance of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at the Hilton Arts Festival.

DLA_20170915_6499_720p from Africa Media Online on Vimeo.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 was opened at the Hilton Arts Festival last week. This was the gist of the address I gave at the opening which may give some insight into why I believe that the World Press Photo Exhibition is helpful to us in South Africa at this time to strengthen our democracy and to help us to value a free and independent, yet accountable, press:

Curators Femke van der Valk (left) of World Press Photo and Charmaine Naidoo (right) contracted to Africa Media Online start the process of hanging the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 in the Raymond Slater Library at Hilton College ahead of the Hilton Arts Festival 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Curators Femke van der Valk (left) of World Press Photo and Charmaine Naidoo (right) contracted to Africa Media Online start the process of hanging the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 in the Raymond Slater Library at Hilton College ahead of the Hilton Arts Festival 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Opening Speech, World Press Photo Exhibition 2017,

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend this event. I particularly want to thank Mr George Harris, Headmaster of Hilton College for coming to officially open this exhibition considering that on this evening he has been asked to be at two other events at the same time. I also want to thank Femke van der Valk from World Press Photo for being here, guiding us in putting up the exhibition and being part of this launch. At the start of this evening I would like to say a few words about the importance of this event and the significance of having this Exhibition here at this time in the history of our nation.

Few would argue that a free press is not fundamental for democracy. An empowered population is an informed population. And one of the quickest ways to make a society servile is to starve them of access to an accurate record of what is going on around them – to the “truth” as we like to say.

Africa Media Online staff members Solomon Chinga, Angela McEwen and Karabelo Lenong hanging the World Press Photo Exhibition in the Raymond Slater Library at Hilton College ahead of the Hilton Arts Festival 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Africa Media Online staff members Solomon Chinga, Angela McEwen and Karabelo Lenong hanging the World Press Photo Exhibition in the Raymond Slater Library at Hilton College ahead of the Hilton Arts Festival 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

South Africa has seen some erosion of these freedoms in recent times. Certainly the press feel under pressure in our country as in many parts of the World. Recently, however, at Africa Media Online we have experienced an erosion of these freedoms not at the hands of the State, but at the hands of personal and commercial interests.

Africa Media Online runs a picture library. Some of our biggest clients are textbook publishers. In the past few years, however, we were told by these clients that they want model releases for all people in the pictures that we supply to them. These publishers have been coming under pressure from lawyers representing people who have found themselves in pictures used in the textbooks and who now want financial reward for the use of their image.

When the textbook publishers ask us to supply model-released pictures, they are not speaking about pictures of people taken in private homes or at private functions (the kind of pictures that the paparazzi take), they are speaking of the kind of editorial pictures generated by editorial photographers mostly in public spaces – real people on a real beach or a real street or a real factory worker in a real factory. They don’t want the real worker any more, they want a model pretending to be a factory worker or they want the real factory worker to sign a document that says that his image can be exploited for any use in any media ad infinitum. What they are doing is swapping a recording of reality for an acting-out of “reality”. Swapping a photograph for an illustration. Swapping a relationship based on trust between the photographer engaging with the subject, for a commercial transaction – turning an editorial photographer into a commercial photographer.

Me (David Larsen) addressing the guests at the opening of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Me (David Larsen) addressing the guests at the opening of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

What this does to textbooks, of course, is to remove them one step further away from reflecting reality or reflecting “truth.” You are no longer dealing with primary sources. You are dealing with reflections of primary sources or reenactment of primary sources. While this certainly has impact of the reliability of textbooks, what this does to the ethics of journalism, is perhaps even more serious.

We deal with editorial photographers – photojournalists and documentary photographers. They maintain the strict ethics of journalism – of being a witness to reality. Of being there in as unobtrusive a manner as possible to witness and to carry the record of witnessing the actual event back to the public so that all can see and be informed and make decisions based on the “facts”. In terms of that ethic paying models to reenact a scene is anathema to editorial photographers and an undermining of the ethic of being an unobtrusive witness. Not so commercial photographers whose job is to enable products to be sold or appetites to be created or heightened.

You might say that editorial photographers are in the pursuit of truth and commercial photographers are in the pursuit of propaganda.

In a world of “fake news” and “alternative facts” that is a very important distinction to make. But it is not a very easy distinction to make nowadays post Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault and the other deconstructionists. Postmodern philosophy has left us asking, like Pilate did of Jesus “What is truth?” Is there such a thing as truth? And if there is, is it accessible to us? Is it knowable by us?

Mr Jonathan Manley, headmaster of St Mary's DSG in Kloof views the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 during the launch event ahead of the Hilton Arts Festival. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Mr Jonathan Manley, headmaster of St Mary’s DSG in Kloof views the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 during the launch event ahead of the Hilton Arts Festival. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Of course the question is an important one. If we arrogantly assume we stand on neutral ground of some higher point of objectivity when we approach a subject as journalists, we fool ourselves. We all come to the subject matter we are to “witness” with presuppositions and a particular angle. As Paul of Tarsus once wrote “we see through a glass darkly – we know in part.”

Being mindful of that, the question that still needs to be asked is, when does an “angle” cross over into being propaganda – no longer reflecting reality but doing violence by manufacturing opinion or consent? When does exegesis become eisegesis? When does allowing the subject to speak for him- or herself stray into putting words in the subject’s mouth? When does reflecting events taking place before one’s camera cross the line into actively (rather than inadvertently) influencing events before one’s camera? I would suggest that as the press we stray into this area far more often than we care to admit.

These are important questions to ask ourselves. Yet in spite of that at the end of the day we can say that we are witnesses to something, and that that something is not just inside our own eyelids. Reality does exist as an objective actuality outside our own minds, however subjectively we may perceive it.

Guests engage with the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at the launch event ahead of the opening of the Hilton Arts Festival 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

Guests engage with the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at the launch event ahead of the opening of the Hilton Arts Festival 2017. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

And so the concept of truth and the pursuit of truth is not something we can dispense with lightly. If we do, we very quickly hand ourselves over to the propagandists – the wealthy and the powerful who can manufacture consent and manufacture taste and manufacture desire and manufacture our patterns of consumption. And just as they do in the commercial space they can do in the public sphere – in politics and in society – influencing what we believe about one another and about groups that are different from our own social group.

Which brings me back to the request by textbook publishers. What they should be doing is fighting, fighting to reflect primary sources about the World around us, and fighting to support those who are faithful witnesses to that reality.

This is why I love World Press Photo and why I believe it is timely that we bring this exhibition to South Africa regularly. Because if we are in a situation where even the publishers of books, and textbooks at that, are no longer fighting to present independent witnesses to their audience, then what hope do we have that the person on the street understands the value of such work. So many of our photojournalists have given up, they no longer work, or they work part time, because the work they do is not valued and because it is not valued it is not paid for. And so we are losing them in droves to other pursuits that may have less consequence for upholding democracy, but at least they can put food on the table. The work of many of our finest photographers can no longer be seen in the press but only in the rarified air of art galleries. It is not the masses that their images challenge and inform, but the few looking for an enduring investment or enhanced status in the eyes of their clients or colleagues!

A presenter from Yo-TV interviews young representatives from Africa Media Online on their impressions of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017. The Exhibition received good coverage from both local and national media. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

A presenter from Yo-TV interviews young representatives from Africa Media Online on their impressions of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017. The Exhibition received good coverage from both local and national media. Africa Media Online partnered with World Press Photo to bring the Exhibition to KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa for the first time in almost 20 years.

The World Press Photo Exhibition has great value in not only holding up some of the World’s best images, but also in holding up the ethic of a verifiable and faithful witness to global events, a witness that is critical for all of us if we are to maintain democracy and freedom around the World. So I am so delighted that we have been able to bring this exhibition to the Hilton Arts Festival and to expose the importance of this work to so many young enquiring minds who need to be able to discern, in the deluge of information they are exposed to every day, what constitutes a reliable source! And we are doing that, at the Hilton Arts Festival, not just with the Exhibition, but with DocuFest Africa. Over the next three days we will have 9 of South Africa’s top documentary photographers and curators speaking about long-term project that they have been working on. And it is not just the topics that they are going to be speaking about that is so valuable, but it is the process of getting to the facts and uncovering the truth and of being a faithful witness that is going to be so instructive to us the audience over these next few days.

So on behalf of Africa Media Online I want to say, thank you to World Press Photo for partnering with us and thank you to Hilton College and the Hilton Arts Festival for hosting this important event which I hope will be an important event on the KZN calendar in the years to come.

We are thrilled to have nine of South Africa’s most talented photographers and curators presenting at the second edition of DocuFest Africa at the Hilton Arts Festival from September 15-17, 2017. DocuFest Africa is a visual storytelling festival presenting to the public important African documentary projects and the curation of significant African archives. It is being run as a companion to the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 which is also going to be on display at the Hilton Arts Festival.

Veteran South African documentary photographer, Paul Weinberg, presenting a personal project at DocuFest Africa 2013 held at Michaelhouse in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

Veteran South African documentary photographer, Paul Weinberg, presenting a personal project at DocuFest Africa 2013 held at Michaelhouse in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

The line-up includes both veteran photographers and young talent, curators of important historic visual collections and the creators of new documentary work.

Veteran photographers include:

  • Multiple winner of World Press Photo awards and overall winner of the World Press Photo of the Year Award in 2011, Jodi Bieber;
  • Senior Curator at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for African Studies and founding member of the Afrapix, Paul Weinberg;
  • Fellow Afrapix member and Black Sash activist, Gille De Vlieg; and
  • Photographer Ian Bruce Huntley who documented the multiracial “underground” jazz scene that persisted in areas such as District Six at the height of grand apartheid
  • Co-founder of the Durban Centre for Photography, Peter McKenzie

Young photographers include:

We also have those who are curating or publishing on significant visual collections:

  • Chris Albertyn who runs the popular Electric Jive African music blog will be assisting to present Ian Bruce Huntley’s work;
  • Siona O Connell is director of the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town has been working to curate archives on forced removals in Cape Town’s Harfield Village; and
  • Historian, former first-class cricketer, former CEO of Robben Island Museum and former CEO of Western Province Cricket Association, Andre Odendaal is preparing a four-volume work on the history of multiracial cricket in South Africa
Jodi Bieber presenting at the World Press Photo Award Days in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She presented two bodies of work, Challenging Stereotypes and Soweto and also spoke about photographing Bibi Aisha, a young Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by her husband's family.

Jodi Bieber presenting at the World Press Photo Award Days in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She presented two bodies of work, Challenging Stereotypes and Soweto and also spoke about photographing Bibi Aisha, a young Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by her husband’s family.

In 2013 we ran the first edition of DocuFest Africa. In that event we also had a wonderful line-up of presentations and all who participated thoroughly enjoyed it. It provided an excellent platform for interaction between visual storytellers and the public. Right from the start the concept was to not only to provide a platform for leading African visual storytellers and curators to present their work and their collections to a wider audience, but we also wanted to connect that with global best practice. In that regard we invited Michiel Munekke the then Managing Director of World Press Photo to present on “Africa and Africans in World Press Photo” building on a relationship we had developed with World Press Photo during the Twenty Ten project in which we worked together with other partners to train over 100 journalists ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup here in South Africa. He understood the vision we had to build an event that can marry the inspiration of global best practice with the promotion of local practitioners.

World Press Photo Managing Director, Michiel Munekke, presenting at DocuFest Africa 2013. World Press Photo wanted to support an initiative that showcased the best of African visual storytelling.

World Press Photo Managing Director, Michiel Munekke, presenting at DocuFest Africa 2013. World Press Photo wanted to support an initiative that showcased the best of African visual storytelling.

While DocuFest Africa 2013 was well received by the participants and those members of the public who came, what we lacked was the crowds. We held it at Michaelhouse in conjunction with Africa Media Online’s Heritage Digital Campus. While the Digital Campus was well attended, we found it challenging to pull the crowds to the Festival. Ever since then I had been dreaming about doing it again, once again in collaboration with World Press Photo and particularly with the World Press Photo Exhibition, and this time in a venue where the crowds were already gathered. In our part of the World, the most obvious place to do this is at the Hilton Arts Festival.

Amsterdam in the Spring. Love locks on the Staalmeestersbrug that crosses the Groenburgwal. I was there for the 2+3D Photography - Practice and Prophecies 2017 conference at the Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam in the Spring. Love locks on the Staalmeestersbrug that crosses the Groenburgwal. I was there for the 2+3D Photography – Practice and Prophecies 2017 conference at the Rijksmuseum

I made two trips to Amsterdam earlier this year in which I reconnected with World Press Photo after a break of some years and got to meet Lars Boering, the new Director. Both of us were looking for ways in which we could continue our collaboration. Even before I went to Amsterdam in January, I had made contact with the Hilton Arts Festival to flight the idea. They loved it and so I went to Amsterdam with some assurance that we had a good venue and a gathered crowd already lined up. The idea, then, of our hosting the World Press Photo Exhibition at the Hilton Arts Festival as an anchor around which to build other events seemed the obvious place to start, and the obvious first event to connect to it was DocuFest Africa. And so DocuFest Africa 2017 was born!

Click here for the DocuFest Africa 2017 programme and ticket information

Click here for the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 programme and ticket information

 

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We are thrilled to announce that from September 15-17, 2017 Africa Media Online will be playing host to the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at the Hilton Arts Festival, the first time in many years that the Exhibition will be presented in KwaZulu-Natal and the first time at the province’s foremost arts festival.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, earlier this year.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, earlier this year.

World Press Photo (WPPh) runs the World’s largest professional photojournalism contest. The winning pictures from that competition are included in the World Press Photo Exhibition that travels to a 100 cities in 45 countries and is seen by an audience of over four million people. The exhibition brings to a global audience the very best of photojournalism and visual story telling taken by the World’s foremost professional press, news and documentary photographers. The Exhibition  is run according to a strict code of ethics that upholds best practice for press photography.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, earlier this year.

An image by Paul Bronstein leads at the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 at De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, earlier this year. I got to know Paula as we were on the judging panel of another international professional photographic competition in 2103.

For the 2017 Contest 5,034 professional photographers entered 80,408 photographs that were adjudicated by specialist juries from many of the World’s leading publications. The World Press Photo Foundation receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon.

A panoramic of the award ceremony for the 2011 World Press Photo Awards was held at the prestigious Musiekgebouw opera house in Amsterdam, Netherlands. South African photographer, Jodi Bieber won the World Press Photo of the Year Award, that year. In her acceptance speech she made a heartfelt appeal to all in the audience, including editors from some of the foremost global media publications and the Patron of World Press Photo, His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn of The Netherlands, to do everything in their power to secure the release of fellow South African photographer Anton Hammerl who had gone missing in Libya. Sadly, unknown to all present Anton had already passed away from injuries sustained while carrying out his duties as a photojournalist in the conflict zone.

A panoramic of the award ceremony for the 2011 World Press Photo Awards was held at the prestigious Musiekgebouw opera house in Amsterdam, Netherlands. South African photographer, Jodi Bieber won the World Press Photo of the Year Award, that year. In her acceptance speech she made a heartfelt appeal to all in the audience, including editors from some of the foremost global media publications and the Patron of World Press Photo, His Royal Highness Prince Constantijn of The Netherlands, to do everything in their power to secure the release of fellow South African photographer Anton Hammerl who had gone missing in Libya. Sadly, unknown to all present Anton had already passed away from injuries sustained while carrying out his duties as a photojournalist in the conflict zone.

The hosting of the exhibition here in South Africa builds on a relationship we at Africa Media Online have developed over the years with WPPh. In 2009-2010 we were the local partner to WPPh and Freevoice in another Dutch Postcode Lottery funded project called Twenty Ten in which we trained journalists and visual storytellers ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The output of that project became a special traveling exhibition which was showcased at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town in 2010. Since then we have worked on a number of projects together large and small. Africa Media Online produced Shutha.org a free resource for professional photographers in the Majority World with support from WPPh and funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. I was invited by WPPh to present a workshop for Mozambiquan photographers alongside the World Press Photo Exhibition in Maputo in 2010. I became a nominator for WPPh’s Joop Swart Masterclass and we hosted then-World Press Photo Managing Director, Michiel Munneke, at our first DocuFest Africa festival in 2013. For a number of years though, our collaboration went quiet as most of the senior management at WPPh that we had built relationship with moved on. So when I had the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam in January this year for The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s Winterschool for Audiovisual Archiving, I took the opportunity to go and meet the new MD of World Press Photo, Lars Boering, and his associate David Campbell. One thing led to another and the outcome is a fresh collaboration with us jointly bringing the WPPh exhibition to the Hilton Arts Festival along with the second edition of DocuFest Africa.

Guests at the opening of the World Press Photo exhibition 2011 view some of the images at Die Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.

Guests at the opening of the World Press Photo exhibition 2011 view some of the images at Die Oude Kerk, Amsterdam.

We have a fabulous line-up for DocuFest Africa 2017 including the only woman African photographer who has ever won the World Press Photo of the Year Award, Jodi Bieber presenting some of her recent work. The mix of the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 and DocuFest Africa 2017 brings the best of global visual storytelling together with the best of South African visual storytelling, creating a wonderful platform for Africans telling Africa’s story. While it has all come together somewhat at the last minute, I am thrilled that it has come together at all and I trust that we can create enough momentum this year to keep doing this in the years to come adding more elements around the core that nurture African photojournalism and visual storytelling.

Jodi Bieber presenting at the World Press Photo Award Days in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She presented two bodies of work, Challenging Stereotypes and Soweto and also spoke about photographing Bibi Aisha, a young Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by her husband's family.

Jodi Bieber presenting at the World Press Photo Award Days in Amsterdam, Netherlands. On that occasion she presented two bodies of work, Challenging Stereotypes and Soweto and also spoke about photographing Bibi Aisha, a young Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by her husband’s family.

Exhibition: The World Press Photo Exhibition 2017
Venue: Raymond Slater Library upstairs in the Centenary Centre at Hilton College
Dates: Friday September 15 – Sunday September 17
Time: Friday and Saturday 9 am – 8:30 pm, Sunday 9 am – 6 pm
Tickets: Tickets are available at the door and NOT from the Hilton Arts Festival ticket office. A ticket gives you entry into the exhibition and all 8 of the DocuFest Africa presentations by leading South Africa photographers and curators.
Charges: 
R120 pp for adults
R65 for children under 16 and pensioners with a pensioners card
R40 per child for school groups over 10
Information: 
Click here for the World Press Photo Exhibition 2017 programme and ticket information
Click here for the DocuFest Africa 2017 programme and ticket information

Participants in this year’s IPTC Conference got to hear about the application of the IPTC metadata standard in Africa. The International Press and Telecommunications Council (IPTC) is the governing body of the World’s most widely used metadata standard because it was developed for the publishing industry around the World and has been incorporated by the likes of Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad and Phase One into their systems. More recently the IPTC has been working on fields that are specific to the heritage sector and published the IPTC Extended standard which has been further updated recently.

Africa Media Online's Managing Director, David Larsen, addressing the 2016 IPTC Conference on the use of the IPTC metadata schema in Africa. The International Press and Telecommunications council sets standards for industry wide metadata schemata particularly for the news and media industries, but increasingly, for the heritage sector too.

Africa Media Online’s Managing Director, David Larsen, addressing the 2016 IPTC Conference on the use of the IPTC metadata schema in Africa. The International Press and Telecommunications council sets standards for industry wide metadata schemata particularly for the news and media industries, but increasingly, for the heritage sector too.

I had the privilege of sharing with the conference how we go about using the IPTC standard in Africa Media Online given that we are working with photographers, media organisations and heritage institutions in different parts of Africa and how we have needed to create systems, based on the standard, that allowed for flexible ways of inputting metadata, from using a spreadsheet that can be ingested into our digital asset management system separately to the images and then marrying the two within the system, to extracting metadata that is embedded in the images by photographers submitting work, to the ability to enrich metadata once the images are in the system. I also got to briefly showcase a new metadata capture back-end to our MEMAT digital asset management system that will allow not just the capture of IPTC and IPTC Extended, but also other metadata schema such as Dublin Core and Darwin Core.

Sarah Saunders presenting at the 2016 IPTC Conference. Sarah is a good friend of Africa Media Online and has taught on our Heritage Digital Campus on two occasions. At the conference she presented a new IPTC metadata panel that includes the newly updated IPTC Extension metadata fields relevant for the heritage sector. Listening to her are Dave Compton, Senior Technologist at Reuters, Michael Steidl, CEO of the IPTC and Abbie Enock, CEO of Capture.

Sarah Saunders presenting at the 2016 IPTC Conference. Sarah is a good friend of Africa Media Online and has taught on our Heritage Digital Campus on two occasions. At the conference she presented a new IPTC metadata panel that includes the newly updated IPTC Extension metadata fields relevant for the heritage sector. Listening to her are Dave Compton, Senior Technologist at Reuters, Michael Steidl, CEO of the IPTC and Abbie Enock, CEO of Capture.

An exciting development that was announced at the conference is that the IPTC is about to launch its first version of a metadata standard for video. They are not calling it a standard. Rather it is an organizer of other existing standards potentially uniting what up to now has been a fairly disparate field. They are set to launch this in a month or two along with a new metadata plugin for Adobe Photoshop Bridge that allows one to use all of the new IPTC Extended fields. This development has been overseen by a good friend of Africa Media Online, Sarah Saunders. Sarah has been an occasional trainer on our Heritage Digital Campus.

My wife, Rosanne, and I have just returned from the CEPIC Congress which was held this year in Zagreb, Croatia in May 2016. As head of Africa Media Online’s picture library that represents many collections from African photographers and African heritage institutions, Rosanne makes the trek to Europe once a year to keep in touch with our distribution partners across the World and also to keep abreast of developments in the industry. This year we decided we should both go to the Congress to get grips with the rapid changes in the industry.

Rosanne Larsen at the Africa Media Online table at the CEPIC Congress 2016 held at the Sheraton Hotel in Zagreb, Croatia. Rosanne travels to Europe most years to meet agencies from around the globe that represent the collections we represent into their markets.

Rosanne Larsen at the Africa Media Online table at the CEPIC Congress 2016 held at the Sheraton Hotel in Zagreb, Croatia. Rosanne travels to Europe most years to meet agencies from around the globe that represent Africa Media Online collections into their markets.

The picture library industry, along with other picture supply industries has come under increasing pressure as camera technology has got better and better placing the ability to produce professional quality images in the hands of amateurs. While more images are being used in the World today than ever before, the flood of amateurs entering the market has resulted in a dramatic oversupply of images pushing prices down to the point where many picture libraries and professional photographers can no longer sustain their service. This, added to the fact that the general public is uneducated about picture licensing and so a vast majority of images used, particularly on the internet, are not licensed but used illegally, has meant many leading picture libraries of the past have had to shut their doors and cease trading. So over the past couple of years the industry has been under great pressure and there has been something of a sense of doom and gloom about it.

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Much of Zagreb, on the banks of the Sava River, is modern in its architecture. But there is an old town section arranged around two hills – Kaptol, which was a monastic settlement and the nearby village on Gradec hill. Divided for many centuries there were united in the city of Zagreb in the 17th Century.

 

This year, however, it was different. There seemed to be a lot of hope around. One reason for this is that the overabundance of imagery is now no longer a help but a hinderance to finding the right image. This means that for busy picture buyers, the cost of trawling through mountains of images to find the right one is starting to outweigh the cost of paying a higher price for an image from a carefully curated picture collection. High quality picture libraries are once again finding there is a need for their work!

Another reason for hope is that the technology for finding and charging picture thieves is getting better and better. There are now a number of companies offering services to picture libraries to track down and charge infringers. Most exciting of all is new technology that allows one to put pictures on the internet without really putting the picture on the internet. In other words, the picture appears, full screen if one wants it to, but the picture isn’t actually there in any way that it can be taken and any attempt at taking it simply results in a clear message that what is being attempted is illegal. That will be a useful education tool! It also links people to where the image can be legally licensed.

Restaurants line Kozarska Street between the two hills of Kaptol and Gradec in old town Zagreb.

Restaurants line Kozarska Street between the two hills of Kaptol and Gradec in old town Zagreb.

So there is good reason we are coming away from CEPIC this year with a sense of hope, that the hard work we have put in over more than a decade and a half to bring valuable African collections to a global audience will be a viable undertaking. We have also come away with confirmation that our thinking about the industry and how to respond to changes in the industry is correct. Watch this space as we start to implement some of those changes in the following months!

 

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Understanding copyright and licensing is fundamental to the work of professional photographers, mainly because it is how we create value for ourselves and our work in the long term. Ensuring that the copyright to your work is in fact in your hands, in contractual agreements may create you an income stream in decades to come, particularly for work of enduring significance. Of course, good business practice nowadays, in the World of the internet and social media, often means it is wise, as Jesus said, to “give and you will receive”. So Creative Commons licenses become an important mechanism for you to determine the conditions under which you give. But all of that presupposes that the creative work belongs to you. You need to have ownership before you can give. And that is where copyright comes in.

I trust this article on the Shutha site is useful to you in helping you to grasp something of the history and “heart” behind copyright and why it exists: Copyright and Licensing

The international copyright symbol. In countries that are signatories to international copyright conventions, marking an image as copyrighted with this symbol is not a requirement for ensuring the image is protected by copyright law. However, marking images with the symbol in the relevant metadata field is advisable since it informs users that the image is copyrighted

The international copyright symbol. In countries that are signatories to international copyright conventions, marking an image as copyrighted with this symbol is not a requirement for ensuring the image is protected by copyright law. However, marking images with the symbol in the relevant metadata field is advisable since it informs users that the image is copyrighted

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Fascination - a universal theme in a local context. A child at uShaka Marine World in Durban, South Africa. PHOTO: David A. Larsen

Fascination – a universal theme in a local context. A child at uShaka Marine World in Durban, South Africa. PHOTO: David A. Larsen

As photographers based in Africa or other parts of the Majority World we are in a position to capture images that are unique and bring a different perspective to the stock photography market. To do that, however, it is important to understand what the market is looking for and what it will appreciate about our unique perspective. In this Shutha article we give the inside track…

What kind of stock images sell?

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