PDN’s Top Ten Photography News Stories of 2019

January 3, 2020

News of David Burnett using a 4x5 camera at the impeachment hearings went viral.

Our ten most-read photography news stories of 2019 offered photographers’ perspectives on viral photographs, previewed new gear releases, marked the passing of notable figures in the photo industry, and highlighted important developments in copyright and labor laws affecting photographers. Here are those top news stories, in descending order.

Why Photographer David Burnett Shot 4×5 Film at Impeachment Hearing

Photojournalist David Burnett and his vintage 4×5 film camera drew a lot of attention and curiosity when he photographed the first public impeachment hearing. He spoke with PDN about why he continues to use a retro 4×5 in news situations. “In a world of 10 or 20 fps, two frames in 30 seconds is a big deal,” Burnett said. While his press colleagues were firing fast, “I shot 16 frames today.”

[For more on Burnett’s camera read: “This Builder of Retro Film Cameras Says Digital Cameras Are Too Easy, and No Fun”]

Photographers, Beware: Kodak Subsidiary Is Grabbing Copyrights

A Kodak-owned photo assignment agency, Kodakit, is requiring its participating photographers to relinquish all copyrights and moral rights to all assignment images—including outtakes. “I can’t image who at Kodak thought this to be a good idea,” said Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association.

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Obituary: Ross Lowell, Founder of Lowel-Light and Creator of Gaffer Tape, 92

The award-winning director, cinematographer and founder of Lowel-Light, who created gaffer tape while fashioning lighting solutions for TV productions, passed away in January 2019.

Hasselblad Is Working on a CFV II 50C Digital Back and New 907X Camera Body

Readers were excited to learn in June that Hasselblad was at work on a new digital back for its V System cameras, view cameras and technical cameras from third-party manufacturers.

Here Are the New Features Coming to Sony’s a9, a7 III and a7R III

Owners of Sony’s a9, a7 III and a7R III cameras were excited to be getting several new features via firmware upgrades in Spring 2019. (Sony went on to unveil the A7R IV in July.)

Trump’s Handwritten Notes in Close-up: Erin Scott on Her Long-Lens Shot

Photographers Erin Scott and Mark Wilson managed to get the most talked-about photos at an impromptu White House press conference November 20, and captured similar close-up photos of President Trump’s hand-written talking points about the day’s impeachment hearing. Scott tells PDN she got the photo with a combination of “news judgment and my natural talent for being extremely nosy.”

Court Reverses Misguided Fair Use Ruling; Restores Order for Photo Copyrights

In a new ruling that protects the incentive of professional photographers to create new work, a federal appeals court rejected a controversial fair use ruling by a lower court. The earlier ruling, in the copyright infringement case of Brammer v. Violent Hues, held that an unauthorized use of a photograph qualified as fair use, even though it was a commercial use that did little to give any new meaning to the original photograph. In reversing the decision, the appeals court said: “If the ordinary commercial use of stock photography constituted fair use, professional photographers would have little financial incentive to produce their work.”

Apple Trashes Trash Can, Reveals New Mac Pro & Pro Display

Apple pulled back the curtain on an all-new Mac Pro with something of a throwback design. Goodbye garbage can, hello tower. The new design will dissipate heat better than the 2013 Mac Pro and will also be more modular and easier to customize.

Obituary: Photographer Peter B. Kaplan, 79

Photographer Peter B. Kaplan, best known for the vertiginous photographs he shot from atop New York City buildings, bridges and the Statue of Liberty, died March 19 in Wilmington, Delaware. The cause of death was interstitial lung disease, resulting from exposure to airborne debris after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, according to Mary Engel, director of the Orkin/Engel Film and Photo Archive, and a long-time family friend.

Proposed California Law Would Change How Photographers Pay Assistants, Stylists

A bill that would change the way stylists, photo assistants and other crew members are paid was unanimously passed by the California Senate in May.

Related articles:

NPPA Sues California Over Gig Economy Bill

What Exactly is the “Fair Use” Defense in Copyright Law

Copyright Small Claims Court Bill Passes U.S. House Vote

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