Thursday, October 31, 2013

NYC Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota Pays Photographer Matt Weber After (at First) Stealing His Street Photo

 8th Avenue in the 1980s. Photo © Matt Weber, used with his kind permission.

Matt Weber, a brilliant street photographer who started out photographing gritty New York street scenes from his cab and has since moved on to the two-footed approach (check out his site), learned last week that Joe Lhota, who is running for mayor of New York City (and is not doing well in the polls), used one of Matt's photos in a controversial political ad that continues to run on local TV stations. Without getting into the politics or claims of the ad (which, for the sake of this post, are not relevant), let's just say the Lhota campaign did not purchase the rights to use the image, shown above. His campaign simply helped itself.

I finally saw the ad early this morning while working out at the gym, and almost fell of the treadmill. The photo is smack in the middle of a montage showing a violent, lawless city back in the days of black-and-white film photography, and claiming that if the other guy wins, similar good times are yet to come.

Here's the ad...(Matt's photo, outside a porn theater on 42nd street at night, is at 0:20)

Weber was hopping mad, as were many of his fellow photographers. Not only was it out and out stealing, but it was used to illustrate a negative campaign ad for a candidate who he didn't support.  As one of Matt's Facebook friends wrote on  his timeline, "the irony is that it's an ad that says Lhota will be tough on crime."

A story posted on October 17 on the Gothamist quoted Weber as saying "I am a Democrat, but this is way beyond political as I have now been documenting New York for thirty years, and I'm concerned with people not paying for photos and even worse, stealing them. I am also very upset at having my work help someone I do not intend to vote for, especially since the image was stolen!"

Apparently, Weber wasn't alone. Richard Sandler and Eli Reed were among other photogs whose works were stolen, apparently taken from Flickr—and the Lhota campaign could have easily figured out who the photographers were doing a simple Google Image Search.

SCOOP! A happy ending

All that was reported last week, but now, it appears, all's right with the world. I spoke with Matt this morning and he reports that after contacting the Lhota campaign, "they came to my terms quickly. I turned down their $1,000 offer. I knew that Lhota wouldn't exist after Nov 5th, so I asked for $2,500 and also contacted Richard Sandler, whose picture was [also] stolen. He got the same amount. If the polls had been neck and neck, I would have just insisted that the photo be removed, but its so lopsided that getting paid seemed OK."

"Funny thing is many people have told me that I post photos which are too large because they could be stolen, and always reply: '"At least I'll get paid for a change.'"

"Now I need Nike or another corporation to lift one of my images and then try and disguise it in Photoshop," he quipped.

So, fellow street shooters, if someone steals your photos, go after 'em. Apparently, it might be worth it!

One final plug: You can buy Matt Weber's outstanding book of gritty New York black and white street photos, Urban Prisoner, on Amazon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Will Street Photographers Embrace the Sony Alpha 7 Because It's $5,000 Cheaper Than A Leica M?

The hottest new product launched right before last week's Photo Plus Expo was the full-frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R, both interchangeable-lens compact digital cameras that use a full-frame sensor. I got to handle both cameras on the show floor and based on my very quick hands-on experience and the advice of a few industry insiders, it looks like the Alpha 7, with its 24MP sensor, is a bit quicker than the 7R (it takes more time to process those big 36MP files) and so may be the camera of choice for street shooters. When I switched it to all-manual exposure and manual focus, I found there to be no discernable lag time. Again, this was a very brief hands-on experience and I hope to do a real-world Street Photo Stress Test with it soon.

A QUICK COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION: Click on these links to pre-order the Sony Alpha 7 or Sony Alpha 7R so I can get a commission. This will help support the continued publication of my blog. Thank you!

But the big question is: Will street shooters embrace this camera, which costs about $5,000 less than the similarly decked-out Leica M? Time will tell, but keep in mind that you can use M-mount lenses on this camera, via a $15 EZPhoto adapter (I believe it's available on Amazon).

I'm interested in any first-person experiences with this combo and just generally to gauge the level of interest in the SP community. I know the camera isn't officially available yet but who out there among my street photography (or just general photography) friends is curious?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Leica M-E Product Review: Rolling Back the Price...and Time!

With more wannabes in the wings, is the lowest-cost Leica M-series rangefinder really a bargain?


Important Note: Click on the links to buy stuff and I get a commission—which helps pay for the time & effort I've put into this blog!

To understand the Leica M-E, let's roll back the calendar: 9/9/09 was an amazing day. That's when Leica announced the world's smallest full-frame digital camera and the world’s first full-frame Mirrorless System Compact, the Leica M9. It was a smashing success. With its 35mm sensor and full compatibility with Leica's rangefinder lens system­—and its $7,000 price tag—the M9 was truly in a class by itself. When I unboxed the recently introduced Leica M-E I felt like I was stepping back four years in time, because it's basically the same camera as the M9 with a couple of minor differences. But there's one significant difference. At the Adorama price of $5,450—$1,500 less than the M9—the Leica M-E is the most affordable digital M-class Leica ever.

A lot has changed since that late summer day four years ago. Fujifilm and Sony introduced high-end mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and Sony NEX-7) that, despite their APS sensors, were clearly gunning to take a bite out of the Leica market. The situation got even more interesting in early October, when Sony announced the Sony A7 and Sony A7R, both full-frame mirrorless system cameras that are smaller and lighter than the Leica M, and promise better quality. Leica last year introduced three cameras on the same day: The Monochrom M, which I reviewed earlier this year and declared the images it produced the best black-and-white photos I've ever seen from a digital camera; the Leica M, a high-end, spare-no-expense 24MP full-frame camera, and the ME, designed to appeal to those who want Leica quality but who simply can't afford the pricier models...

Read the rest of my review at the Adorama Learning Center. 

BLOG SPECIAL! Here are some additional street photos I shot with the M-E... 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Street Photo of the Day - Israel Edition - Oct. 25, 2013

Erev Shabbat, Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel 2013. © Mason Resnick.

The story behind this photo. Although I normally don't write captions for street shots, I'm going to break my rule here.

It was about an hour before sunset on Friday. I asked the man why he was handing out sprigs of fragrant leaves. He told me it is a sephardic minhag (custom) to smell the leaves and say the blessing over spices, "Boreh Asei Besamim" before Shabbat, then put them aside. After Shabbat, you say havdalah (the blessings marking the end of Shabbat) over them. He then gave me a branch and we said the blessing together. I brought it back with me to the hotel and after Shabbat our tour group said Havdalah over spices and included this one.

Back in New Jersey, I decided to start this minhag in our house and beautify the Mitzvah of Shabbat. Ever since then, I always make sure to bring home some fragrant spices (mint, dill, oregano...whatever is available locally) and say the blessing over it before and after Shabbat. This is my way of bringing a bit of the Kotel back to our house in NJ.

Shabbat Shalom.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Street Photo of the Day - Israel Edition - Oct. 21, 2013

After a short Leica New York interlude, we return to our Israel Edition of Street Photo of the Day. This week: The Kotel.

The Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel. © Mason Resnick

NEW! You can buy this picture for home or office wall art! Learn more here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Street Photo of the Day - Oct. 14, 2013

We interrupt our Israel street photography series to share some photos I shot last week with the Leica M-E, the "Low-End" $5,500 Leica M which I am testing for the Adorama Learning Center. Enjoy!

New York, NY, 2013. © Mason Resnick.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

More shots from Arts in the Park (including a special request)

More fun from Arts in the Park. Above, by special request: Zach Laurano serves a hot dog from his cart! All photos © 2013 by Mason Resnick

 Ms. Lundy & Gang take Zumba to the Avenue...

Street photo of the Day - Israel Edition - Oct. 2, 2013

Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem, 2013. © Mason Resnick

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Photos From the Highland Park Arts In The Park street fair

I had a blast as the official photographer of the Highland Park NJ Arts in the Park street fair. Here are a few of my favorite shots for the day! All photos ©2013 by Mason Resnick.

Beth Cohn is proud of her prizewinning work. Her dad is my MD.

What's this guy doing? Why, he's making kettle corn, of course. Who knew you had to don battle gear!

Street Photo of the Day - Israel Edition - Oct. 1, 2013

Ben Yehuda Street, Jerusalem, 2013. © Mason Resnick