That Time I Photographed The CCD Inventor

I was digging through my achives looking for an image the other day when I came across one of my favorite images I had made of Nobel Prize winner, George E. Smith in 2005, while on assignment for Black Star. What I did not know at the time I made this image, because we mostly talked about life and sports during the photo shoot, was that Mr. Smith was responsibe for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor of which I was photographing him with inside my Nikon D100.

Think about that.
I’m making pictures using a piece of equipment that he had envisioned in 1969. The whole time I was at his house in Toms River, he never mentioned it once.

For those who don’t know about Black Star, it was the first privately owned picture agency in America and is noted for it’s contributions to the history of photojournalism. The agency was formed in 1935 and introduced numerous new techniques in photography and illustrated journalism. It took me a long time to get into that agency.

I had applied to become a Black Star photojournalist early in my career. I was encouragingly rejected by a very nice woman who became one of my good friends. They apparently already had a photog that they represented in the Philadelphia market and did not have room for another. I was told to re-apply after I had some more experience. Years later, that photojournalist who was already represented, who had also befriended me early on, passed away. What I did not know was that he had mentioned me to the higher ups, and when he passed on, they reached out to me and asked if I was still interested in working with them. Hell yes!!

It never occurred to me at the time that I was photographing one of the people responsible for the digital camera I was using while working for the photo agency that revolutionalized photojournalism in the 30’s on.

I’m sitting here thinking about it.
All that’s going through my head is, how fucking cool!?

Know Your Rights As A Photojournalist/Artist

Wow. Flabbergasted is what I am at this moment.

I posted the above image on a facebook group this morning and while most people (over 300) liked the image, a few small minded people had a problem with the image. They didn’t have a problem with the composition, color or anything but the fact that the subjects might be Mennonite and accusing me of violating the subjects rights when I photographed them on a public beach in plain view. The complaints did not come from the subjects of the image, but some small minded people who did not like the subject matter. They tried to tell me the image should be removed because Mennonites do not like to be photographed. As someone who has photographed Mennonite and Amish folks for that matter, I’ve never come across a problem with making pictures of younger folks. The older folks sometimes do take issue with being photographed, but these people certainly didn’t have a problem. They were on a public beach in plain view for all to see.

I made the image because it showed a group of friends enjoying the day and each others company a well as the beautiful Cape May beach. The colors popped in conjunction with the sky and the fact that they are small in the frame shows designed to imply the larger, and hopefully great things to come, in these individuals lives. It’s a pretty picture on a gorgeous day with nice color that merely documents the moment. 

To anyone who has a problem with this image, sorry you feel that way. As a photojournalist and artist, it is my right to make an image of anything I choose as long as it is in public view (which these people are). No laws are broken. No one’s rights have been violated (especially since the subjects are not identifiable). Well, maybe mine with the rude statements of some small minded individuals. The image is not being used commercially, but I do have every right in the world to use it editorially. And let me be clear, even if the subjects of this image had objected, I am well within my rights to make that picture and use it editorially. That said, if the subjects did object, I might not use the image. Did you read that? “MIGHT not.” Why? Because I am well within my rights whether those folks like it or not. 

You have no right to violate my rights as an artist because you don’t like the subject of an image I made that breaks no laws.

If you have a problem with it, that is YOUR problem, NOT MINE.