Archive for January, 2011

Government Counter-Terrorism Review

27th January, 2011

Mini placards from the PHNAT mass gathering. Photo © Jonathan Warren

After reading the Home Office review, it appears that the coalition government is planning to give the police new stop-and-search powers to get around the European Court of Human Rights’  S44 ruling.

We are not confident that the small concessions made to photographers in the counter terrorism review will protect us from the harassment by police, in all it’s many and dangerous forms that we have increasingly experienced over recent years.

If this review is implemented, photographers will once again be operating in a state where the lack of trust by authorities for citizens will be the order of the day. The law has not been scrapped, it has been rebranded.

The NUJ submitted a response when the government was conducting the Rapid Review of Counter-Terrorism powers, outlining our real and present concerns. From the conclusions of the review it seems the serious issues affecting journalists, photographers and many others have not been adequately addressed.

For more information on this news see the BJP Article

Branch Members Slideshow

20th January, 2011

Due to the success of the December branch members slideshow and requests by our members, we are going to continue on with this in the future.

As requested by our members, we have increased the image submission to five images per person and a maximum video rush of 25 seconds. Images should be at least 1400 pixels on the longest side. The video can be more than one scene and all material should be from 2010 to the present time. The theme is still about selecting your own personal favourites.

All images should be sent to the branch secretary. Video can be sent via a file share site. The next branch members slideshow is pencilled in for the February branch meeting, 22 February, 6pm at Headland House. Look forward to seeing you all there.

NEC Disabled Members’ Seat Casual Vacancy

19th January, 2011

A casual vacancy has become available on the National Executive Council (NEC), the Disabled Members’ seat (2009-11). Anyone wishing be nominated for the position should contact the Branch Secretary prior to the next branch meeting, 25th January 2011, in order for the branch to vote on the nominations.

All nominations for the position are due in by the close of business, Tuesday 1st February 2011. In the event that a branch member cannot make the January branch meeting, five members who are up-to-date with their contributions may nominate that member, as long as the sign the nomination form to that effect (Rule 13(e)). Also all nominees should take note of the requirements of Rule 8 – National Executive Council.

The Good Old Days

13th January, 2011

Ever since I first started out with a camera I’ve heard talk of the “good old days”. First, it was of a time when Picture Post was on sale at every corner shop, and photojournalists ruled the world. A little later, it harked back to the era of Don McCullin at the Sunday Times, and the once-glorious weekend colour supplements. Later still, the Independent magazine, under Colin Jacobson, was held up as the last survivor of a lost golden age and the great tradition begun by Bert Hardy, Stefan Lorant, Cartier-Bresson and the rest. Then it too went the way of all the others.

It’s a seductive take: right now there are many reasons why the “concerned photographer” (a term current back then) might think their chosen medium is on a downward path. Magazines, and many newspapers, are dominated by celebrity and lifestyle trivia, with virtually no space for serious picture stories; staff photographers on the nationals are an almost extinct species; freelancers are ten a penny, their ranks swollen by digitally-equipped wannabes and hobbyists prepared to work for peanuts; commission rates and repro fees have been static or falling for years, and copyright is under threat from big business interests and business-friendly legislators. Many photographers are feeling very hard pressed indeed.

The days of news weeklies filled with extended picture stories were undoubtedly a high point in the relatively brief history of print photojournalism, but their demise was not the end of the line. Today, the web is spawning new outlets and multimedia forms that expand the ways in which photography can be used to tell stories. And pictures are everywhere, made and seen in numbers and formats that would have been unthinkable before the advent of digital technology. It is true that the majority are dross, and too many picture editors seem happy to make choices based on cost, not quality, but the new technology has created at least as many opportunities as problems.

Many of those problems are the result of its revolutionary impact on publishing. The industry is struggling to adapt to a completely new business model – or possibly several of them. And it’s only part way done. The big question is, how do you make money distributing content on the web, when everyone expects it to be free? Cut costs with copyright grabs and rate cuts? Boost revenues with paywalls and advertising? Probably all of the above and more, with no-one sure what is going to work, and who will go to the wall.

We are in a period of transition, but the death of photojournalism is not inevitable. Sooner or later, viable revenue streams for publishing on the web will be established by the big corporate players, and smaller niche companies will follow in their wake (or vice versa). Who knows – even print might survive in some form or other. However it works out, there will still be an enormous demand for photography. And if paid-for content is to stand out in a web awash with oceans of cheap-and-cheerful mediocrity, dross will not be good enough. Quality will be at a premium, and quality will only be possible if the new reality is a sustainable one for photographers. Cutting rates and grabbing rights isn’t going to work in the long term.

So maybe there are good old days still to come. Of course, to get to there we have to find ways of surviving the short term. Undoubtedly, as a first step, that survival requires a vigorous defence of rates and rights. As for what else – answers on a postcard, please.

Phillip Wolmuth is a freelance photographer and branch committee member. This article originally appeared on Phillip’s blog.

Comment pieces from branch members are always welcome. Articles should be 400-600 words long and sent to

January Branch Newsletter

11th January, 2011
Cadogan Estates Limited CCTV notice, Duke of York Square, King's Road, Chelsea.

Cadogan Estates Limited CCTV notice, Duke of York Square, King's Road, Chelsea. Image © Phillip Wolmuth.

Ground Control: A discussion with writer and journalist Anna Minton

25th January, 6pm at Headland House.

Street photography, which has a long and fruitful history of recording life in our shared public spaces, is under attack. The privatisation of public spaces – in London, Canary Wharf and parts of the King’s Road are good examples, but there are many more – is making it increasingly difficult for photographers to document how the world around us looks and feels in the 21st century.

Anna Minton’s book Ground Control reveals how, in recent years, “the market place has taken control from the local electorate. Now, untested urban planning has transformed not only our cities, but the very nature of public space. From Liverpool to Manchester, London to Newcastle, more and more streets are owned by private companies with the sole aim of making money”.

What can we do to re-assert the rights of the public in general, and photographers in particular (both amateur and professional), in our shared urban spaces?

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Annual General Meeting

Our meeting on the 25th January will mark a year since the start of the London Photographers’ Branch. It has been a packed year, the highlights of which you can read in the Chair’s Annual Report. We invite you all to come along and take part in the Annual General Meeting which will precede the normal monthly branch meeting with a speaker on the privatisation of public space.

6pm sharp – NUJ Headland House – drinks and nibbles provided.

We will elect a new committee, delegates to the NUJ Delegate Meeting in Southport and two branch auditors. Any member is entitled to stand for committee, however to hold a post as branch officer you have to be a full member.

Positions for 2011

(A) A chair
(B) A vice-chair
(C) A secretary to keep the records and convene meetings.
(D) Membership Secretary assists members with union membership and recruitment.
(E) A treasurer to be responsible for the funds in the care of the branch and for keeping accounts. No treasurer shall be aged under 18.
(F) A welfare officer to care for the interests of sick members and their spouses and liaise with the NUJ Extra.
(G) An equality officer to promote equality issues and provide a focus for questions and complaints arising from the code of conduct.
(H) A union learning representative focuses on branch training and education.
(I) Web Editor co-ordinates content for the branch Website, Twitter and Facebook
(J) Legal Rep assists and supports members pursuing legal issues.
(K) Non Portfolio members assist and contribute, but with no specific role.

The committee would encourage members to think about how they can contribute to the branch, we are very happy to have job-shares for committee positions, absolutely no experience necessary, we are all learning on the job! Feel free to contact committee members for details.

Candidates standing as branch officers will be allowed to address the Branch meeting prior to the election for a maximum of five minutes and questions can be asked of any candidate.

We will also briefly discuss amendments to the Delegate Meeting motions, which will decide the union policy over the next year/18 months. This is a very important meeting, I urge all members to do their best to attend.

Thanks again to all the out-going committee for their hard work and commitment to the work of the branch.

Jess Hurd, LPB Branch Chair

Read the rest of this entry »

Equality for Freelancers: Sexual Orientation

11th January, 2011

The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace. Defining the workplace, as freelancers, can mean doing a shift, working with a permanent contract or selling a single image or some copy. And, it also means where we gather our news for example, it may be in the street while replying to questions from the police. Please contact the Branch equality officer (Tel: 020 7247 5393) for further clarity.

There are several clauses in the 2003 Regulations:

  • It’s unlawful to treat people less favourably than others on grounds of sexual orientation or to instruct someone else to behave in this way.
  • Indirect discrimination involves applying a practice, provision or criterion which intentionally or not, disadvantages people of a particular sexual orientation, unless it can be justified, as an example, counselling.
  • Harassment involves subjecting a person to unwanted conduct that violates their dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. And, harassment does not have to be intentional to be unlawful. Employers must act to protect people from bullying or harassment.
  • A person can’t be victimised, in any way, because they’ve made, or intend to make, a complaint about discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • The Regulations apply to those working wholly , or partly, in the UK, as well as those working abroad, as long as the employer has a place of business in the UK and the work is for the purpose of that business.
  • The Regulations cover all lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual people, even if a heterosexual person is discriminated against because he / she is mistakenly thought to be gay, lesbian or bisexual.
  • These Regulations don’t cover trans people. There are specific regulations that provide protection for trans people under the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 and gender recognition Act 2005.
  • There is no legal requirement forcing employers to take positive action. Trade unions can legally provide training specifically aimed at gay, lesbian or bisexual members in order to encourage participation in the trade union thereby, redressing an existing imbalance.
  • There is no requirement under the law for organisations to collect monitoring data on the sexual orientation of staffers or contributors. Any pressure to force a person to disclose their sexual orientation may well be considered to be harassment under the regulations and a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Chair’s Annual Report

10th January, 2011

The year began with the fantastic Mass Gathering, where thousand of photographers descended on Trafalgar Square to demonstrate their opposition to the targeting of photographers under s44 of the anti terrorism powers. Branch members have been key to the success of the I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist campaign. January also saw the launch of the London Photographers’ Branch (LPB) with branch officers and committee elected.

In February we launched our branch website and had our first meeting, a panel discussion on The Future of Photography with Martin Argles, John Harris and Kelvin Bruce.

A team of us made and delivered mini PHNAT placards to every MP ahead of the Hostile Reconnaissance pre election Rally at Friends Meeting House. A high profile platform of lawyers, authors and campaigners discussed civil rights and press freedom. We also commissioned and showed a video by Jason Parkinson to document the campaign which has been seen in colleges, trades Councils and recently the Houses of Parliament.

The Chair and Jonathan Warren were invited to speak at Belfast Exposed. Following an excellent talk by Stuart Freedman,Trying to tell the story? Ethics and Photojournalism we set up an Ethics Sub-Committee to revise the NUJ Code of Conduct in relation to visual journalism. We also affiliated to the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and organised around the Guardian cuts in picture rates.

We discussed the Future of Copyright in April, with branch members Andrew Wiard, Guy Smallman, Freelance Organiser John Toner and celebrated the defeat of Clause 43 of the Digital Economy Bill. LPB Members were also central to campaigning around this.

In May members Andrew Wiard, David Hoffman and John Harris spoke at the National Photography Symposium in Derby.

June we had our First Aid Course, NUJ Regional Press Awards with the Chair and Andrew Wiard as judges. We also had a very informative meeting Convergence – Should we adapt and how? A panel discussion with photographer Edmond Terakopian and film editor Simon Ruben. Jason Parkinson and Marc Vallee won their legal case against Met Police for an incident at the Greek Embassy.

In July we organised a Victory Flash Mob outside New Scotland Yard after the suspension of the use of s44 following the successful campaign work and legal cases brought against the police including NUJ members in the European Court of Human Rights.

Party Conference season saw the threat of a photographer walkout (again), the Labour Party press office backed down from their plan to limit photographer numbers and select who they wanted to cover the leaders speech. The Branch Secretary also attended the Met police operational briefing for the Papal visit. We also had a victory in the James MacKay case a member who had his images deleted by the transport police.

We had a very intense month of campaigning in October with a fantastic branch meeting on the Future Of Street Photography with work from Grant Smith and Andrew Testa. Lawyers, Chez Cotton and Anna Mazzola, who have successfully represented many branch members were part of the debate alongside General Secretary Jeremy Dear.

The branch was also involved in the parliamentary meeting, Who’s afraid of photographers? – A seminar exploring society’s suspicions of cameras, with Jason N. Parkinson’s Hostile Reconnaissance film featuring in a session chaired by the LPB chair and David Hoffman giving a well received talk.

We also worked on a briefing for MP’s on the terrorism laws, as requested by the NUJ cross-party group of MP’s.

November the Chair and Branch Secretary gave a talk to photographers in Dublin. We had a great panel discussion on International Affairs, helpful tips and issues when shooting abroad, raising solidarity with photographers in the Palestine and the Philippines. The branch also setup a working group to discuss establishing or re-establishing NUJ agreements with national newspapers and news organisations for picture/video rates and commissions. We also had a report from a member involved in the successful collective action against the Tate Britain contract. After negotiations Jeremy Dear has agreed with LPB’s proposal to increase the budget (ring-fenced) for photography and web, a real success.

December saw a victory and large payout for David Hoffman in a case against the police for his assault at the G20. The Chair also had a very usefully timed response from the IPCC in her complaint about being stopped under s44 covering a traveller wedding.

Throughout the year we have represented and supported members under threat from the English Defence League. We have also helped members go through redundancy, claim compensation and raise complaints about the conduct of police officers and security guards. We have vigorously defended the UK Press Card and journalistic material, helped with welfare claims for injured photographers, sorted out membership enquiries, presented NUJ recruitment and ethics talks at universities.

We have held courses on, The Business of Photography, First Aid and plan a Photoshop/Workflow Course, Public Order/Self Defense, other affordable training courses and mentoring.

In the New Year we will be leading a campaign around private security and the privatisation of public space. We will also be producing an I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist pamphlet, charting its success. We will also be engaging with other organisations in discussions on the impact of the Freedom Bill, further attacks to copyright and building for an event around Press Freedom Day in May.

I would like to thank the NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear and all the departments at NUJ HQ who have helped the branch navigate through our first year. The representation from our legal friends. All the voluntary work done by individual committee members and the branch members for their continued support and involvement.