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What We Learned This Week: With Violence Against the Media On Rise, Learn to Stay Safe

By David Schonauer   Friday May 15, 2020


Violence towards the media is on the rise.

This week we spotlighted an article from Chris Post, chair of the National Press Photographers Association’s Safety & Security Committee, offering advice on staying safe while covering news in public.

Tensions are high, “and the constant pummeling of the ‘Fake News’ mantra doesn't help calm the already turbulent situation,” noted Post, who cited a number of recent incidents in which visual journalists were assaulted (and in one case robbed) while working.

One of those incidents involved a television journalist in the Quad Cities on the Iowa-Illinois border, who was assaulted while shooting video footage of local businesses. Fstoppers later reported that a man was charged for battery and criminal damage in assault. The man grabbed the journalist's camera, raised it above his head and smashed it on the ground, then approached the journalist menacingly, at which point it appears the photographer disengaged and ran to safety. According to Fstoppers, the man was “upset that he had appeared in the shot when driving by." 

“While there is no immediate solution that you or I can implement to make our job magically free of danger, nor will it ever really be that way, what you can do right now is use some skills and tactics to limit the probability of a violent encounter or reduce the severity of an encounter should one occur,” wrote the NPPA’s Post.

One key, he noted, is to focus your situational awareness. “[I]f you are paying attention to your surroundings, looking for things that seem out of place or unusual, you can make changes to what you are doing to avoid conflict or danger,” he wrote. Remember the “OODA Loop,” he advised. OODA stands for “Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.”

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:
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1. Photography Open 2020: April Highlights From Our Judges

Month two of the American Photography Open 2020 competition is in the books, and this week we featured three entries from April that delighted the judges: a touching shot made on a Nebraska farm during calving season by Cerrina Smith (above);  a drones-eye view of a summertime beach in Rhode Island by Andy Leclerc; and a black-and-white portrait of a family of surfers in Florida by Darin Back. Now, we noted, it's time for you to enter the competition and show us what the world looks like where you live. There are great prizes and the chance to have your work seen far and wide.


2. "Dr. Plague" Returns

In the 17th century, faced with the scourge of the bubonic plague, the first doctor of Louis XIII fashioned a protective suit allowing him to treat the sick while keeping his distance. The “Plague Doctor” suit became recognizable to all as a figure of authority and knowledge and went on to become a symbol of hope, notes photographer Stephan Gladieu, who decided to bring Dr. Plague back to Paris during the Covid-19 pandemic with a new series. He described it at L’Oeil de la Photographie.


3. George Steinmetz's Paragliding Art

Photographer George Steinmetz recently ran afoul of the NYPD for using a drone to shoot images of Covid-19 mass burials. But as an aerial photographer he’s better known for the photos he makes around the world from his paraglider — which he describes as a “leaf blower with a parachute overhead.” Now, noted NPR, he’s releasing The Human Planet: Earth at the Dawn of the Anthropocene, a photographic record of our planet in the anthropocene age — a word that refers to the mark humans have made on the global landscape.


4. Women Photographers Unite to Document Covid-19

In March, as countries began issuing lockdown and stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus, 400 women photographers decided to band together virtually in order to provide one another with support, inspiration, and opportunities, noted Artsy. Their project, WP – The Journal, started as a discussion within Women Photograph, an organization founded by photojournalist Daniella Zalcman in 2017 to combat the lack of women photographers getting commissioned by major publications.

5.  The History of Swimming Pool Photography

For the better part of the last century, photographers of all kinds have been drawn toward pools, whether for the way their reflective forms are captured by cameras or their role in social gatherings, noted Architectural Digest, which spotlighted the new Rizzoli book Lounging, Diving, Floating, Dreaming: Picturing Life at the Swimming Pool. “[T[he swimming pool has remained a seductive place for photographers as years have passed,” noted writer Lou Stoppard, adding, “Pool pictures litter the history of photography.” Photo above by Alice Hawkins.
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At top: From George Steinmetz

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