BoxingSF Winter Championship [PHOTOS]

BoxingSF held their Winter Championship last Friday at the ILWU Longshoremen’s Hall near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. 24 fighters fought in 12 matches including a brief intermission before the final three matches.

It was my first time shooting boxing, and there were lots of challenges to making good images. I was limited to the corners of the ring, so as not to impede the view of paying customers, (makes sense), I had to shoot through the ropes at an upward angle, and the most difficult to overcome- shooting fast moving action in low light. I bumped the ISO to 2500 grudgingly, and tried to shoot no slower than 200th/sec, faster when I thought I could get away with it- but with a maximum aperture of 2.8 shooting with a fast enough shutter speed while allowing enough light in to light the scene and give good sharpness was extremely difficult. Here are the images I like the best. How do you think they came out?

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“Work for Hire” vs. Ownership of Work – My thoughts on signing a contract with The Associated Press

I was recently asked if I could come in and sign a freelancer contract with The Associated Press (AP), and while I was very flattered to be asked, my immediate thoughts were not entirely positive- and they center around the great “work for hire” debate.

For those who don’t know, The AP is a non-profit organization that consists of many members, like newspapers, magazines, and other forms of print media, who pay monthly fees and in return are allowed use of AP content, (images, stories, maybe even video) for use in their publications. The AP has bureaus worldwide, and while not the most prestigious photo or wire agency in the world, (That honor would undoubtedly go to VII, Magnum or Black Star), it is probably the best known one, and is certainly widely respected.

As a photographer, freelancing for the AP has the potential for national and international exposure. So naturally, I was excited about the prospect of getting my work before people’s eyes. After all, if you dream of being a photojournalist, you generally dream of telling stories that affect people’s lives- but in order to do that, people need to see your work.

However, (as with any wire service), signing a contract with the AP means that when they send you on assignment, the work you produce on that assignment belongs to them. This is known legally as “work for hire” – a company pays you a fixed rate to produce specific works, and in essence you become a temporary employee for the duration of that assignment, although the traditional benefits of direct employment don’t magically accompany this virtual employee status, (health care, unemployment insurance, social security, etc). It seems different in the case of news photography, since the photographer isn’t in control of the scene, or the “assignment” like one would on an advertising or corporate brochure shoot. We are not producing the employer’s “vision” at all- just actual reality.

The other side of this coin, is the reality that most of the time the work you create under contract doesn’t have material, lasting value that you’re being denied. It is rare that a single image defines a generation, or a decade, or even a year. Of course, when you’re the photographer, losing out on the potential future rights sales is a depressing thought, but, and not to be too depressing here, the odds are stacked against you that you’ll even be the one to snap that image.

In the meantime, any assignments I get will benefit both parties equally, and I’m ok with that for now. If and when the time comes that I’m shooting long, documentary photo stories/essays or producing work that I believe WILL have more value to me in the long run, I will choose to shoot it independently, and own the results myself.

For now, I’ll just permit myself the confidence boost that just being asked to sign the contract allows me the luxury of.

One Month Later: Reflections on Occupy Oakland

Occupy Oakland didn’t topple the banking elite, or take all the dirty money out of politics, but it did have one positive, albeit unintended, consequence- it jumpstarted my photojournalism career. It’s actions (and the reaction from the city) made Oakland the epicenter of the international anti-Wall Street movement. With that fame came news agencies and media outlets who were too small, or simply too far away, to have their own boots on the ground.

People all over the world rushed to the web to search for images and video of the events of October 25, when the Oakland Police Dept (and other assisting agencies), used tear gas and other non-lethal force on the Occupy Oakland protesters, which put my work before thousands of people. After receiving some positive feedback from other photographers covering Occupy, I sent links to my work to the photo editors at the San Francisco Chronicle and The Associated Press. I didn’t hear back but I sent more work the following week when a day of peaceful protest and a night of violent protest once again put Oakland in the national spotlight.

The keys to success as a photographer are twofold- take compelling images and be persistent, and not necessarily in that order. I had heard from other photographers that photo editors aren’t the fastest to reply to email, especially during periods of intense activity, which in its heyday, Occupy Oakland certainly qualified as, so I kept emailing. Never requiring a response, but suggesting that one would be welcome.

Finally, (and sadly, as Occupy was winding down in Oakland), I received responses from both photo editors. The AP was the first to respond, and asked me to pass on some images from the general assembly in Oakland that night. They bought a few single images then, and the following day invited me in to their SF office to sign a freelance contract, (my thoughts on that in a following post).

During and after Occupy I sold work to Good magazine (for a slideshow on their website unfortunately, not the magazine), United Press International, The Associated Press, and San Francisco Magazine. Of course, the attention and portfolio-quality work are priceless but must be considered benefits too.

When all is said and done, Occupy Oakland really happened at a good time in my life.

It’s not over yet….but Ed Lee declares victory anyway

  1. Ed Lee sounds like he’s giving a victory speech, after one early round of results #sfmayor. “Let’s celebrate tonight, let’s go to work”
  2. Interim mayor Ed Lee giving what almost sounds like a victory speech ….hear it on CBS 5 at 10 & 11
  3. “@MCHammer: Ed Lee Celebration !!!!” EL Dee celebration.
  4. LIVE BLOG: Mayor Ed Lee speaks on election night
  5. Looks like Ed Lee is the Mayor of San Francisco –
  6. Unsurprisingly, many were upset, and some used angry hashtags to express their feelings.
  7. Why is Ed Lee declaring victory w 30% of the vote? #sfmayor #chinatownvotingfraud
  8. Channel 7 says 1% of percents reporting. Ed Lee is already giving his acceptance speech? What a douche. #votesutro
  9. Telling that the only positive mentions of Ed Lee on #sfmayor are promoted tweets. Everything you need to know.
  10. RT @johnjwyatt: Spineless Ed Lee- When he spoke at his party, said almost nothing & gave the mic to Willie …
  11. Ed Lee for mayor? Massive earthquakes have screwed this city less. #SFMayor #SFElection
  12. I’m kinda disappointed in the people who didn’t vote and those who think Ed Lee would be a good Mayor.
  13. “I promise you I will not run for Mayor!” Ed Lee. #electioneering #occupysf #occupyoakland #ows
  14. With the existence of an “anyone but Ed Lee” campaign in San Francisco it’s no surprise that there is a lot of animosity on the web over his seeming victory in tonight’s election.

    However, as the old cliché goes, ‘time will tell’ – in this case, whether Lee jumped the gun tonight or not. Ranked choice voting has already provided us with some surprising upsets, we only need to look across the bay to Oakland for proof of that.

Keeping up with Leland Yee

The SF State newspaper, Golden Gate Xpress, tasked me with shooting Leland Yee this afternoon, so after getting his schedule emailed to me, I scooted away to head him off at Balboa Park BART. 20 minutes and one tweet later, I discovered that his schedule had changed and he was on his way to 24th and Mission BART. I raced away to get there before him. I succeeded, but it didn’t do me a lot of good- the man arrived at practically full-sprint, shook a few hands, flashed his wide smile, and headed up Mission, ducking in and out of stores at breakneck pace.

Following his ninja excursion to the Mission, Yee headed to Balboa Park BART, where he spent an hour handing out literature and shaking hands. At the end of the hour, John Avalos showed up with his wife and shared the station. Both of them kept a respectful distance and made efforts not to get in each other’s way. How nice to see that from political candidates.

Here are some photos:

Occupy Oakland in Photos, Part 3

In case you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, you’ve heard about Occupy Oakland. A local occupation inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Oakland made nationwide headlines after local police tore down their encampment outside City Hall, then used tear gas on demonstrators on several occasions afterward.

In this third post, I present photos from November 2, 2011. During the day Occupy Oakland called for a general strike in the city and a march to the Port of Oakland to block the entrances and exits, but at night some demonstrators got out of hand and police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades on the crowd, eventually arresting about 40 people.

Occupy Oakland in Photos, Part 2


In case you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, you’ve heard about Occupy Oakland. A local occupation inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Oakland made nationwide headlines after local police tore down their encampment outside City Hall, then used tear gas on demonstrators on several occasions afterward.

In this second post, I present a gallery of photos of Occupy Oakland from October 12, 2011 through November 1, 2011, excepting October 25.